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CHRIS ERSKINE / FAN OF THE HOUSE

Men just follow in Rex Ryan's footsteps

The Jets coach's apparent foot fondness isn't much different from other guys' obsessions, except maybe Hugh Hefner's.

December 30, 2010|Chris Erskine

There is much to celebrate this New Year. Natalie Portman is pregnant. Hugh Hefner is engaged. Alanis Morissette is a new mom.

Notice how important news usually happens in triplicate?

And out of New York, usually so ignored by the American media, we have reports that Jets Coach Rex Ryan has an above-average fondness for feet.

Evidently, they don't call it football for nothing.

Ryan, the most folksy and likable coach in the game, is not denying the foot fetish reports, nor is he commenting much. This we do know: He is a genius when it comes to the press.

"To be honest, and I get it, I know you need to ask and all that stuff," Ryan told reporters inquiring about videos posted by his wife. "But it's a personal matter and I'm really not going to discuss it, OK?"

About all he said on this issue is this: "My wife's beautiful. We've been married for 23 years. She's awesome."

And what did you get your wife for Christmas? Bet it doesn't compare to that little sonnet.

Look, if you're searching for a timely toast at your next event, try this: "To Rex Ryan, a shoe-in for coach of the year."

Get it? Shoe-in? I can almost guarantee at least one person will laugh, maybe only you. But I think that's the secret to happiness — amusing yourself in mirthless situations. Me, I'm funniest at funerals.

What a wad of silly string these Jets have become. They have a quarterback who likes show tunes. They have a strength coach who trips opposing players. You have that whole mess with Brett Favre and the cellphone. Forget "Hard Knocks." The Jets should host "Saturday Night Live."

Now they have Ryan and the feet. Can you imagine what the enlightened and thoughtful fans in Foxborough will do with that?

Ryan's taste for toes first surfaced last week with media reports that Ryan's wife can be seen showing off her feet in Internet videos. In one of the clips, the cameraman — presumably Ryan — talks to her about her feet as she brazenly dangles them out the window of an SUV.

The Ryan issue is a little odd but not exactly ground-shaking. As Dear Abby once noted, "Anything intimate that occurs between consenting adults is pretty much OK, as long as I'm not one of them." At least that's what I remember her saying (it's been a while).

What makes this minor sex scandal so bizarre is that it involves Ryan's spouse. No nightclub skank. No team hostess.

What's next, Brad seduces Angelina? Mickey and Minnie do it — gasp — in the shower?

This is the sort of thing that even Ryan probably gets a good chuckle over — at least eventually. The affable coach never takes himself too seriously.

Indeed, Ryan might be the only NFL coach who appears to be having any fun on the job. The rest look like antacid ads. As a group, NFL coaches might be the clenchiest people on the planet. They're about as human as your cellphone.

Meanwhile, the high jinks taking place in the typical male mind are always a solid source of amusement. And frankly, it's those clenched-up Jimmy Swaggart types you have to worry about the most.

To lend perspective to this situation, I reached out to the gang of goofs I play touch football with each weekend. They offered these examples of their own predilections:

• Remote controls.

• French revolvers, French kisses, French fries.

• Women who drink beer and eat brats at tailgate parties.

• Western European librarians insecure about American culture.

So, with the exception of Hef, whose first divorce came in 1959 and who is now engaged to a woman born last week, men really aren't all that screwed up.

In fact, given a choice between sex and a sandwich, most American men would probably pick the sandwich. OK, most men would probably pick both.

As for Ryan ...

"Technically, a foot fetish wouldn't be classified as a psychiatric disorder if it didn't cause clinically significant distress or impairment including legal complications, non-consenting partners, or interference with social relationships," says Dr. Nancy Lee, a Beverly Hills clinical psychologist. "So Ryan's foot fetish is clearly innocuous when compared with other psychiatric paraphilias such as exhibitionism or sexual sadism."

According to Lee, a recent survey found the least prevalent fetish (under 1%) was for stethoscopes — perhaps not great news for docs, but at least they still have their Porsches.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

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