Bills coach Rex Ryan is about to make his return to the Meadowlands, the place he called home for six seasons as coach of the Jets. Ryan's tenure in Gotham wasn't always successful, but it never stopped being entertaining. Before Rex Bowl I kicks off on Thursday Night Football, exclusively on NFL Network, let's take a look at 10 of his most memorable moments with the Jets:
10. Rex stands up to Belichick
Ryan never managed to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to the Jets, but he did inject the organization with some much-needed swagger. That brashness was in place before the Jets ever played a game with Ryan on the sideline. "I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick's rings," Ryan told a New York radio station six months after his hiring. "I came to win. Let's just put it that way. So we'll see what happens. I'm certainly not intimidated by New England or anybody else." The adventure had begun.
9. Rex and Tom, one and the same
Ryan turned the mundane daily act of meeting with the media into an art form. In November 2010, Rex joked that he and Tom Brady shared a lot of similarities, from their chiseled looks to their supermodel spouses.
8. Rex buries the ball
Noting a pattern here? The Patriots always brought out the best in Ryan, both as an entertainer and a coach. After the Jets were embarrassed in a 45-3 prime-time loss in Dec. 2010, Ryan brought his team to a hole just off the team's practice field and buried a game ball from their most recent loss. Ryan later called it "a funeral for the football."
7. Rex's shining moment
It never got better for the Jets in the Ryan era than the first month of 2011. After an 11-5 regular season, the Jets knocked off Peyton Manning and the Colts in the wild-card round, then went up to Foxborough and stunned the top-seeded Patriots six weeks after Ryan buried the ball in Florham Park. Though the Jets would lose to the Steelers the following week, getting revenge on Belichick and Brady will be remembered as one of the best moments in franchise history.
"Maybe everybody else never believed, but we believed," Ryan said after the win. "We're moving on. Same old Jets, back to the AFC championship. The only difference is this time we plan on winning."
6. Rex melts down
Perhaps the nadir of Ryan's tenure came following the Jets' third preseason game in 2013. Mark Sanchez, attempting to fight off rookie Geno Smith for the starting job, played late into a win over the Giants and ended up sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury. With beat writers out for blood after the game, Ryan lost his cool.
"I can say anything I want, that's the beauty of this country!"
The uncomfortable news conference (see above) remains a thing to behold.
5. Rex plays dress up
Prior to a Week 10 matchup against the Browns, Ryan donned a wig and a fake belly in a teasing nod to twin brother Rob, then the defensive coordinator for Cleveland. A reporter asked "Rob" what he thought about his brother.
"I think Rex is a great coach and he's a great person, there's no question about that. And he's very handsome."
4. Rex goes running with the bulls
Just another reason why Rex is impossible to dislike. I mean, can you imagine Jim Caldwell joining the annual running of the bulls at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona? Unless you're on mind-altering drugs, you cannot.
3. Rex's potty mouth
Ryan has the mouth of a sailor. It's another endearing trait of the coach, who turned F-bombs into an art form during his six-year run in Gotham. The league has never quite agreed, as we learned in November when Ryan was fined $100,000 for swearing in the direction of officials after a win over the Steelers. Ryan was also fined by the NFL $75,000 in 2011 for yelling at a fan and fined $50,000 by the Jets in 2010 for flashing a middle finger in a photo.
"I believe this is the year that we're going to win the Super Bowl," Ryan said. "I thought we'd win it the first two years. I guarantee we'll win it this year."
1. Rex's Hard Knocks masterpiece
Ryan was already a New York star by the time the Jets agreed to appear on Hard Knocks in the summer of 2010. His appearance on the acclaimed HBO series made him a folk hero. Ryan's angry rant at Jets players after an uninspired practice is the stuff of franchise lore. It also birthed a catch phrase that's been uttered in countless apartments, houses, offices and dorm rooms in the years since:
"Let's go eat a goddamn snack."