Bills fans are waking up in disbelief (almost two months later) that Rex Ryan really is our head coach. Yes, it’s still that shocking. In fact, it’s probably fair to state that hiring Rex Ryan created an existential crisis for more than a few of us.
How in the world I be able to recant six years of calling him an arrogant blowhard? Well, fortunately Rex solved that problem for all of us the minute he landed in town. No one circles the wagons like this head coach.
From the moment he uttered “Lookie, lookie, here comes Cookie” during his introductory press conference, the love affair was on. Rex Ryan has done more in less than two months to cement his place in the hearts of Western New Yorkers than the previous four head coaches combined.
How can you not love a guy that gets national press coverage for strolling into a tattoo parlor during Super Bowl week to change his ink from green to blue? The ink hadn’t even dried on his contract and he was blazing his way into the hearts and minds of Bills fans everywhere.
It’s true that guys like Wade Phillips came to love Buffalo, and Buffalo loved him in return. However, even for Wade, Buffalo was an acquired taste. We have come to expect our coaches to tolerate the region for the sake of being “one of 32”.
In fact, it was quite surprising to this Bills fan that Rex Ryan even interviewed for the job. Like others, I thought Rex was used to the bright lights of New Jersey, and that a “small town” like Buffalo wouldn’t even be a consideration. I thought Atlanta or Denver were the most likely scenarios.
Buffalo and Rex Ryan? Nah, never happen. Then it did, in a big way. Rex has already done more press conferences, radio shows, and event appearances in less than two months than most head coaches do in a year. The man is a walking advertisement for all things Buffalo.
In less than a week after being hired, he was spotted hanging out at a Sabres game wearing Sabres gear even though he was a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan. You can’t put a price tag on what that did for the sports fans of Buffalo. His dissing of the Leafs and famed Patriots-hating is music to our ears.
He showed up at the Combine decked out in a Thurman Thomas jersey chatting up Belichick, who was sporting a hoodie with his own name on it. Rex says he wears his Bills gear everywhere because he is proud to be head coach of the Bills. How can you not love a guy who throws himself into the role with that kind of enthusiasm?
If that’s not enough, he blew up Twitter this week with a picture of his tricked out pickup truck with a custom Bills paint job. I guess he’ll need it after asking what part of the area gets the most snow because that’s where he wants to live. Seriously, has there ever been a head coach that fit the ‘Bill’ better than Rex has managed to accomplish in such a short time?. When you look around at all the things happening in the city of Buffalo, you can almost feel the tide turning in our favor.
Rex Ryan is teaching us to have fun again. We no longer have to feel like our team is being led by a second tier coach or newbie trying to find his way. With the exception of a very dignified Chan Gailey, it’s been a merry-go-round of transients since the turn of the century.
Two of of our last four head coaches left town unexpectedly after two seasons and ended up with the Jaguars. Now we have a guy who is devoting his “last shot as a head coach” to going “all in” with Buffalo.
It’s an unusual marriage of a fan base in need of a leader, and a leader in need of some love. Rex was under-appreciated by Woody Johnson, and wasn’t going to make the same mistake again when getting hired by a new owner.
The Pegulas have brought evidence of change in ownership by hiring Rex Ryan. Mr. Wilson would likely have never considered a guy like Rex, and likely the reverse would have been true as well.
Terry & Kim Pegula are starting their new era in ownership of the Bills with a bang. Rex Ryan is ‘Exhibit A’ as evidence that this is no longer your mother’s Bills team. The Pegulas rightfully surmised that the franchise needed a big fish. They got that, and so much more.
We’ve longed for a head coach that reflects the strong personality and values of our region. We’ve yearned for a person who personifies the tenacity of this fan base. Rex not only understands us, he wants to be one of us.
Certainly there has to be some winning involved to make his assimilation in WNY complete. If Rex Ryan gets the Bills back into the playoffs next season for the first time in a decade and a half, it will go a long way to that end. No doubt there is much work to be done, and he is showing his commitment to that purpose every day.
Up or down, win or lose, we are in it together with the right guy this time. He fully understands the psyche of this fan base, and our relentless perseverance through decades of heart ache. He not only knows our passion, he lives it.