Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper got some support from some unexpected places this weekend. Just a few days after former NFL head coach Rex Ryan called the player a “turd,” a couple of the top defensive backs in the league disagreed strenuously.
Ryan’s comments were during an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up, where he went on a bit of a rant about the contract Cooper got from the Cowboys. Not only did he call him a name, but Ryan said Cooper was the kind of player that disappears when the game is on the line. He punctuated those comments by saying he would never have given the receiver the contract he got. The coach turned analyst said he would have saved the cash for a long-term deal with quarterback Dak Prescott.
New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore was one of the first players to come to Cooper’s defense. He wrote on Twitter about how hard it was to cover Cooper and called out Rex Ryan directly.
“Come on Rex he one of the toughest receivers in the league to cover. His release game is probably top 2.”
While Gilmore and Cooper haven’t faced off all that often, it’s important to note that the Pats defender was named the NFL defensive player of the year. This past season, Gilmore posted six interceptions and 20 passes defended. Both of those numbers led the league. In other words, he knows a thing or two about who are the tougher players to go up against and how to defend them.
"[Amari Cooper] is the biggest disappearing act in the National Football League. … I wouldn't have paid this turd."
—Rex Ryan pic.twitter.com/A8gzRJqBnD
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) April 3, 2020
Another player who hasn’t gone up against Cooper all that much is about to see that change. Former Detroit Lions defensive back Darius Slay took to Twitter to defend the Cowboys receiver as well. Slay retweeted a post showing the receiver’s best plays of the previous year and posted a caption saying, “Rex Ryan, U sleep!”
Slay signed with the Philadelphia Eagles this winter. That means he’ll be going up against Dallas, and it’s newly resigned star twice a season.
As Popculture points out, Ryan did backtrack on his harshest comments after the interview aired. The former coach said he couldn’t believe he used “that word,” though he stood behind his comments that the player wasn’t worth the contract he was given.
“The reason for it is — I don’t doubt this is an elite player. He has those traits, but an elite receiver to me shows up on the road. He shows up against great corners. And he shows up in crunch time.”
Ryan went on to say Amari Cooper had not shown up when it mattered most at this point in his career.