Rex Ryan talks about family, growing up near Buffalo

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo Bills Head Coach, Rex Ryan, says he doesn’t sleep with a teddy bear, but his son, a student at Clemson, does sleep with a stuffed squirrel.

“The story behind it is he came into our room one night and said, ‘Hey dad, there’s a rat in my room!’ Sure enough we went in and there was a squirrel in there, so we got him a little stuffed squirrel,” explained Ryan during a one-on-one interview with News 4. After answering countless questions during the last several months about the Bills quarterback situation and his plans for the team, Ryan took this opportunity to talk ‘everything but football’.

Ryan revealed that during his time growing up not far from Buffalo in Toronto, he didn’t play football. He played hockey, although not necessarily by choice.

“There was no other sport,” Ryan said. “In Toronto, you played hockey, period. There are two sports, there’s hockey and there’s street hockey.” Although he admitted that he and his brother got kicked off the football league after three games because they were too rough.

“We hit a coach’s kid or something and we got kicked out,” Rex confessed.

He says he and his brother weren’t very good at hockey, but they knew football a little better than the kids in Toronto, and for good reason. His dad, Buddy Ryan, was a coach at University at Buffalo in the 1960s, a Head Coach with the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals, and was on the coaching staff for several other NFL teams. Football is the family business.

“I just think I saw my dad going into work and every Monday, whether they won on Sunday or lost, he went in and couldn’t wait to go into work, and I think that’s something that I picked up, how happy he was,” Ryan said of his dad.

Ryan’s dad has an interesting connection to the Buffalo Bill’s historic ‘comeback game’ of 1993. The Houston Oilers fired their defensive coordinator after the game, and gave the job to Buddy Ryan.

Rex Ryan was happy to brag about his dad here saying, “He goes to Houston for one season and I think they won 12 or 13 games, and 10 games in a row to finish out the season.”

Ryan knows his dad would love to be there when he leads the Buffalo Bills onto the field for his first game as Head Coach. He’s hoping he can physically make it, but says his dad is excited and already offering him some advice.

“He’s reading up on all the guys and telling me about them, and I’m like ‘Dad, I know! I coach them!'”

As one might imagine, this is not the first time Rex has heard advice from Buddy Ryan.  He once buried a football, based on a story his dad told him. It happened right after the New York Jets lost to the New England Patriots 45-3, a crushing defeat on a Monday night game when both teams were 9 and 2.

“I came back and I’m like, ‘What am I gonna do?’ I’m talking to my dad and he says, in high school once I buried the football, took it and buried it and said ‘We’re going to get the chance to bury these guys in the championship game’, and that’s what they did”, said Ryan.

So, he buried the football too, and told his team that six weeks from then, they were going to play the Patriots again in the playoffs, and beat them. And that’s exactly what happened.

The saying goes, behind every good man, is a good woman. Rex gives a lot of credit to his wife, and he made sure he remembered their anniversary when News 4 asked.

“June 26, we’ve been married 28 years and so that’s it. You’re right that this profession is tough and I always used to say there are two kinds of coaches’ wives, great ones and ‘ex’ ones, and the great ones stay through the good and the bad. It’s not easy but that’s a decision I made a long, long time ago. It was the best decision I ever made.”

If that sounds romantic, Rex says don’t be fooled, he’s not the romantic type. That may be evident in how he proposed to his wife.

“I was on the phone actually. She said something like ‘What’s going to happen to us? Well are we gonna get married?’ so I said ‘Yea, you want to get married?’ And she said yes,” Rex said of the telephone proposal.

Courtesy: @REXTRUCK
Courtesy: @REXTRUCK

If you haven’t seen Rex’s truck yet, it has been the focus of plenty of questions and stares. Decked out in Bills colors and logos, he says it shows that he’s proud to be the Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills. He does have a message for certain fans though.

“You don’t need to take a picture as we’re driving! Plus, I don’t want you to see the speedometer,” Rex joked.

As for Ryan’s coaching style, he says the challenges he has faced in his life will help him succeed here. It’s common knowledge that he is dyslexic, but still found a way to get a Master’s Degree. As he puts it, “It might not be a straight line, but I found a way to get there.”

He plans to do the same on the field with the Buffalo Bills.

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