- Associated Press - Monday, May 2, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Rex Ryan has been called lots of things _ some nice, and others not-so-much _ during his two years as coach of the New York Jets.

Here’s one more he might be able to soon add to the list: best-selling author.

The brash, confident and colorful coach’s first book, “Play Like You Mean It,” hits stores Tuesday and he couldn’t be more excited about giving fans a peek at what being Rex Ryan is all about.

“I’m a fan of football, I love the sport, and I’ve said a million times that I’m just an average person given an incredible opportunity,” he said Monday. “I wanted to take that and give kind of like an insider’s look at what it was like for the first two years of getting a job you dreamed about all your life.”

Ryan began a media tour Monday to promote the 280-page book published by Doubleday, including a guest spot on the “Late Show With David Letterman.”

“I’m not nervous,” he said. “I don’t have to sing.”

He has several book signings and other television and radio appearances scheduled for later in the week.

“People are going to definitely sense the passion I have for the game, and they’re going to see the fun times and I think they may be surprised how I got here and about my background, what it was like growing up Buddy Ryan’s son, but also the things I’ve had to overcome,” Ryan said.

The book, which got the full support of Jets owner Woody Johnson, is in a first-person, conversational style and it’s all typical Rex: no-holds-barred and thoroughly entertaining. And parents, don’t worry. There aren’t too many R-rated words like the ones Ryan got so much flak over during the HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series last summer. He also gained a new appreciation for what it takes to write a book.

“I thought maybe it would be a few days, but it was a lot more than that,” he said, laughing. “I like the end product. I think it’s really good and I’m certainly proud of it.”

Not bad for a guy who has dealt with dyslexia all his life, another subject his discusses in depth.

“Never in my wildest dreams,” he said, “did I think I’d be the author of a book.”

Ryan dedicated the book to his father, who has recently been ill, and gave Buddy Ryan the very first copy.

“He can’t see too well, so we were trying to read it to him,” he said. “It’s something I’m proud of. We never threw something together to just go out and sell it or something. I wanted it to be something that a fan will be happy they purchased.”

Ryan started thinking about writing a book after his first season as the Jets coach and Don Yaeger, who co-authored it, began compiling interviews and anecdotes a year ago. A hectic and controversy-filled second season just added to what is sure to be a page-turner, especially for Jets fans.

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