Skip to main content

Jet sets it straight: Ryan exudes trademark confidence in book

NEW YORK -- Rex Ryan sounds the same as an author as he does as a coach: bold, brash and confident.

The New York Jets coach's upcoming book, "Play Like You Mean It," gives an entertaining glimpse into the man who has become one of the NFL's most colorful and controversial personalities. And -- no shock here -- he doesn't pull any punches.

Ryan, who co-wrote the book with Don Yeager, talks about growing up as the son of Buddy Ryan and having dyslexia, his philosophies on coaching and how he helped turned the Jets from a punchline to a team that has made two consecutive AFC Championship Games. He also reiterates his Super Bowl guarantee in the 280-page book coming out next Tuesday.

"Everything we do, everything I do, will be to make sure that we bring the Lombardi Trophy home," Ryan wrote. "I said it the week after we lost to the Steelers (in the AFC Championship Game) and I'll say it every time I'm asked. ... This team is soon to be Champs!"

The book is in a first-person, conversational style through which Ryan is at his uncensored best -- with only a smattering of the cuss words that drew so much ire during the HBO's "Hard Knocks" series last summer. While there aren't any stunning revelations -- which would have been a surprise given all the media attention Ryan and the Jets have received -- the sometimes-cocky coach delves deeper into some of the moments that helped shape his life, on and off the field.

Ryan dedicates the book to his father -- "I grew up wanting to be Buddy Ryan" -- and reveals that the elder Ryan was born in 1931 and not 1934 as most biographies say, because he fudged his age knowing "the NFL was already becoming known as a young man's game" in 1968.

Ryan also praises Bill Belichick, criticizes a few former Jets such as safety Kerry Rhodes, says he believed former first-round draft pick Vernon Gholston was "a phony" before he coached him and tweaks the New York Giants.

"Some people like to say the Giants are the big brother team and the Jets are the little brother team," Ryan wrote. "... I have news for you: We are the better team. We are the big brother."

Ryan also says the Jets will be better than the Giants for the next 10 years.

Ryan goes into detail about how he has tried to transform the team in his image and gotten rid of players who didn't fit. Rhodes, traded to the Arizona Cardinals last offseason, was one player the coach singled out, calling him selfish.

"He wouldn't work, and he was a Hollywood type, flashy and needing attention," Ryan wrote. "I don't mind flashy, but your work ethic had better back it up."

Ryan also says he dumped linebacker Eric Barton and tight end Chris Baker when he took the Jets job in 2009 because "they were negative guys" and "never respected the guys they played with."

Gholston, who was released before the lockout, also wasn't a favorite of Ryan's before he took over in New York after being the defensive coordinator in Baltimore. The former No. 6 overall pick was drafted by Eric Mangini in 2008.

"Truth be told, I didn't like the kid coming out of college," Ryan wrote. "He's a good athlete and a smart guy, but I thought he was a phony."

Ryan recalls having a conversation with Brett Favre, who had finished one season with the Jets, but chose to retire -- again. New York drafted Mark Sanchez a few months later.

"I told him I'd be happy to have him come back," he wrote. "Part of me really wanted to coach Favre, and I think we would have been great with him."

Ryan dedicates a chapter to last season, entitled "2010 ... A Wild Ride," and discusses several things that made news on and off the field, such as the Ines Sainz incident -- "It shook me up beyond belief" -- and when a coach tripped a Miami Dolphins player on the sideline.

"I'm telling you right now, I had no idea about it," he wrote. "Mike Westhoff, our special-teams coach, had no idea about it. I promise you that. I'd happily take a lie-detector test to prove it."

Ryan talks about "Hard Knocks," and things he liked and disliked about the series, and said former coach Tony Dungy's criticism of his language on the show "really upset me."

Ryan also says New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker apologized to him for making foot jokes during a news conference before a playoff game in reference to foot-fetish reports allegedly involving the coach and his wife, Michelle. After beating the Patriots to reach the AFC Championship Game, Ryan says Belichick praised him in the postgame handshake.

"He came up to me and said, 'That was an unbelievable coaching job. You deserve it, and I hope you win the whole thing.' He really said that," Ryan wrote. "And I could tell he was sincere."

Ryan thanks several people in the acknowledgments, from Jets owner Woody Johnson to the fans, signing off with: "We've got a championship coming, and I can't wait to celebrate with you!"

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.