By Nick Shook
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It has again been a cold winter for Rex Ryan, recently fired former head coach of an NFL team.
Make that two of the last three.
Ryan is again unemployed, terminated with a week left in the second year of his five-year contract with the Buffalo Bills, signed just weeks after he was relieved of his duties as head coach of the New York Jets. His AFC East tour stops there, at least for now, as the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins won’t be in the market for a new head coach for the foreseeable future. So with plenty of time to reflect on what went wrong in Orchard Park and the Meadowlands, does Ryan have ill will toward his former employers?
Well, not quite.
“I don’t wish them (the Bills) bad will,” Ryan said, via the New York Daily News. “I don’t. But I don’t wish them luck, either. I’ll be honest: I don’t wish them good luck. I don’t wish them bad luck. I just don’t wish them luck. I wish the Jets luck.”
Buffalo has moved in that direction with the hiring of 42-year-old Sean McDermott, who spent the previous six seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. Todd Bowles’ Jets need much more, and aren’t in the best position to improve immediately. And Ryan — he’s not afraid to let people know that with the removal of his truck’s Bills graphic wrap also went his care for Buffalo, even if they did treat him well.
“I’m really not that bitter and maybe that $15 million is one of the reasons,” Ryan, who owns a 65-68 record as a head coach, said of the money he’ll still be making from Buffalo even after his termination. “I’m not bitter, man. … Yeah, I’m hurt. I was hurt by it. There’s no question. But bitter ain’t how I feel. I’m like, ‘Shoot, if they never wanted me here, then fine. I ain’t here. I’m not your coach anymore. Fine and dandy.’
“But I got an opportunity in front of me that a lot of guys don’t get. I’m going to see where it takes me. Maybe this is a different career and I really enjoy it. I’m hoping that’s the way it is. Maybe I get into and I don’t like it. Maybe they don’t like me. Maybe I go back to doing something I love, which is coaching. I’ll never say never. I’m a young guy still. … I’m healthy. But bitter? Nah. Not bitter, man. I’m really not.”
That opportunity Ryan is referring to is his upcoming cameo appearance on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown ahead of Super Bowl LI. It seems like a natural fit for the outspoken Ryan, who is perhaps as famous for his bombastic predictions — “I set the expectations too high,” he said of his arrival in Buffalo — as he is for his sideline performance. He’s still invoked in many office spaces across the nation when it’s snack time, and looks to be easy money for great television.
This year will likely be a sabbatical year for Ryan, but we’ll see if he stays in the studio or ends up back on the sideline before too long.