The Dolphins are going to do everything they can to keep the offseason jabbing between Channing Crowder and Rex Ryan from turning into a game week distraction as the Jets and Dolphins prepare to play for the first time this season.
You might remember that Crowder and Ryan went back and forth for about a week in the offseason about who should be considered the team to beat in the AFC East, and whether or not the division title went through Miami or New England or New Jersey.
Well, that issue is certain to arise this week, with the New York media being among the best at beating the drums on any subject of their choosing. Except the Dolphins have shut down the New York hacks on this one.
New York writers requested that Crowder participate in the Wednesday conference call going to New York. The Dolphins privately considered the request for a nanosecond before publicly and officially responding that Crowder is "unavailable."
The Dolphins, who warned Crowder to stop talking about Ryan and the Jets during offseason OTA days, have again warned the linebacker that the issue might come up this week if he talks to the Miami hacks, of which I am one.
So it will be interesting to see if Crowder finds other things to do during the open locker room sessions this week or if he finds himself "unavailable" for the South Florida media as well.
And even if he does show up in the locker room, it will be interesting if Crowder discusses the subject once he's asked. You must remember that coach Tony Sparano doesn't like distractions that might affect the outcome of the game. And the coach thinks an unidentified gnat flying around South Florida qualifies as a distraction that affects the outcome of the game.
So don't bank on fireworks from Crowder.
Interestingly, while the Dolphins were trying to stop the controversy from Crowder, they apparently didn't see an end run to the controversy by Miami's other ILB, Akin Ayodele. Appearing on the Ronnie Brown show Monday evening on WQAM, Ayodele went off on the Jets.
"Their head coach really blew the fire even more this offseason with Channing and both of them going back and forth," Ayodele said. "How does a head coach, why would you even try to go with word, you know battle a player. That to me doesn't make any sense, so yeah, the animosity is there, the hatred is there. You know there's no love.
"It will feel great once we put that whooping on them."
And then there was this from Ayodele, who is not a candidate to become Rex Ryan's new best friend.
"I seriously do not like him, I don't like their team, I just don't like the fact that he had the whole altercation with my boy [Crowder]. You can't out-talk Channing Crowder -- can't do it, I'm sorry. And I really think it does betwe the fire for this game coming up and it adds a little more to it."
Ryan, meanwhile, is likely to address the issue. He sort of did so already on Monday during his press conference when he was asked for thoughts on Crowder.
"Yeah, I hope he's thinking about me," Ryan said tongue in cheek. "I kind of forgot about that. God, that's something else we have to worry about -- Channing Crowder."
Lame, I know, but the Jets were coming off their first loss of the season. Ryan did suggest he'd be better on the topic later this week.
And why is this an issue at all, you ask?
Are you kidding? Where you living under a rock in June?
The genesis of the fun came when Ryan was talking about Bill Belichick and the Patriots and said, "I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick's rings. I came here to win, let's put it that way ... I'm certainly not intimidated by New England or anybody else."
Crowder, a very bright kid, believed Ryan only considered the Patriots as a team to worry about and that omitting the Dolphins was disrespectful.
"I know it's his first chance to be a head coach, and I know he's excited about life," Crowder noted. "But I've never played a football game in June in my life. So congratulations to him. He's the OTA Super Bowl winner."
And with that, it was officially on.
Ryan shot back.
"I don’t know this Channing Crowder," he said. "All I know is that he’s all tatted up, so I guess I ought to be nervous about him. If I was younger, I’d probably handle him myself."
And that opened Ryan to a full-on retort that, frankly, I thought scored major trash-talk points.
"Oh, Lord have mercy," Crowder told this newspaper. "What's wrong with him? Now he's talking about preparation? We play them twice this year. If he wants to be prepared, shouldn't he know the starting middle linebackers of his division rival?
"He says he'd take care of me if he was younger? I'd have beat the hell out of that big old joker. Or if he really wants to get retro, my daddy or my uncle could have handled him. Don't get big. Win with preparation? Start watching some tape and learn who your rival is. Come on now."
Crowder's greater point was that the Jets, "didn't even win the division and now they're all talking about the [AFC East] goes through New England. That's what gets me bothered. I don't care about that other stuff, but don't say the division goes through New England.
"It goes through Miami."
And Crowder still feels that way. If you read this blog regularly, you know that last week Crowder was asked if he felt differently about the AFC East and whether the Dolphins were still the team to beat based on their then 0-3 record.
That record didn't bother Crowder then and didn't change his opinion of how he feels.
"Same way," Crowder said. "When [Tom] Brady came back, everybody crowned the Patriots the champion. And then the Jets came and they're playing good ball and Rex Ryan crowned them the champions. We're the division champions right now from last season. Everybody thinks they're good. The Bill are playing good ball, they went to the wall with the Patriots. So it's a wide open division right now.
"Everybody's on the Jets, riding the Jets' bandwagon. In the beginning everybody thought Brady was going to come back and take them to the Patriots they were pre-[injury]. So everybody has their guess and their opinions of the AFC East.
"We want our piece of the pie. We want our bite of the apple."
You want the kicker to all this? As they now cannot speak with Crowder because he is "unavailable," the New York reporters will get their second choice on their conference call Wednesday. The Dolphins are scheduled to give the reporters a much tamer, more calm member of the team to interview via telephone.