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.
“I just hope people look at the book for what it is,” Ryan said. “It’s really about the passion, about coaching this game and I recognize that this is a great game. It’s going to be definite reading for head coaching candidates and guys who go through this process. As a football fan, the interest is going to be there about, ‘Wow, these are things that I maybe never actually realized you have to go through.’”
Ryan has made his mark by saying whatever’s on his mind, and never apologizing for always being himself. He did acknowledge to The Associated Press that there are two words in the book he would have liked to change if he could. One, he said, was using the word “phony” when he discussed recently released former first-round pick Vernon Gholston.
“What I meant by the ‘phony’ thing was that his (NFL combine) numbers were phony,” Ryan said. “His numbers were better than maybe anybody in the history of football, and I was like, ‘That’s not how he plays. Nobody plays like that.’ But, Vernon got better, and he was a tremendous person.”
In a chapter dedicated to last season, he discusses several things that made news on and off the field, such as when Ines Sainz, a Mexican television reporter, felt uncomfortable in the Jets‘ locker room and it spurred an investigation by the NFL.
“I mentioned that was a ‘distraction,’ and that was probably a word I would change,” Ryan said. “I’m not necessarily sure what I would change it to, but I have a lot of respect for that young lady. She has never once said that the Jets did something that wasn’t appropriate. I think the word, ‘distraction’ wasn’t the right word. It was more of a ‘challenge’ at that point.”
One touchy subject Ryan didn’t really address in the book was the foot-fetish reports involving him and his wife.
“Initially, I said it was a personal matter, and that hasn’t changed,” he said.
Ryan also clarified _ as the book states _ that he chose not to re-sign linebacker Eric Barton and tight end Chris Baker when he took over because of information he got from people in the organization that they weren’t team players, not from his own observations. He also reiterated that he thought safety Kerry Rhodes, now with Arizona, was talented but didn’t make football a priority.
“I said he was a flashy, Hollywood-type because that’s Kerry, and I have no problem with that,” he said. “All I want them to do is give me everything you’ve got. … At the end of the day, I never thought he was giving everything he had to us.”
Ryan declared that the Jets will be the best team in New York for the next 10 years, and that drew the ire of Giants fans, some players and even media relations director Pat Hanlon, who took some playful shots at him on Twitter.
“I think I could take him,” Ryan said with a big laugh. “I am afraid that he’d throw his Blackberry at me, so I’ve got to watch out for that.”
So, what are the plans for a sequel, Rex?
“We win the Super Bowl,” he said, grinning.