Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rex "Salmoneus" Ryan

So last night I was finishing up Edith Hamilton's classic Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes and near the end she was describing some minor characters in the Greek Mythology scope of things. That's where I read her description of Salmoneus:
This man was another illustration of how fatal it was for mortals to try to emulate the gods. What he did was so foolish, however, that in later years he was often said he had gone mad. He had pretended that he was Zeus. He had a chariot made in such a way that there was a loud clanging of brass when it moved. On the day of Zeus's festival he drove it furiously through the town, scattering at the same time firebrands and shouting to the people to worship him because he was Zeus the Thunderer. But instantly there came a crash of actual thunder and a flash of lightning. Salmoneus fell from his chariot dead.

The story is often explained as pointing back to a time when weather-magic was practised. Salmoneus, according to this view, was a magician trying to bring on a rainstorm by imitating it, a common magical method.
I read that and I said, "Holy crap - that's Rex Ryan to a tee!"

Rex Ryan is a mortal who has accomplished almost nothing as a head coach but if you paid attention this off season you would think it was he and not Bill Belichick who is sitting at the head of the best coaches in the NFL table. There is much clanging of brass when Ryan moves (from his balls I guess) and salty language serves as his firebrands. He has asked his players to worship him as the man who will lead them to the promised land.

Ryan's hubris could be a type of magic where he is trying to get his players to think they are champions so that a championship could follow. Trying to bring on the rainstorm as it were. People are already calling his methods mad. Bragging only makes his team a target and his lofty expectations may backfire when players like Mark Sanchez can't live up to them.

Unlike Salmoneus, though, Rex Ryan will not perish from a single thunderbolt. His tenure will perish from a series of them. The first of which was delivered by Baltimore last week and the second of which will be delivered today by the New England Patriots.

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