There are more important developments in the world today, but that didn't put too big a crimp in the startup of the Rex Ryan book signing and media tour this morning.
In fact, Ryan's tour was already impacted to a certain degree by the Osama bin Laden story with the cancellation of a taping for the Charlie Rose Show this afternoon. But today's taping of tonight's Dave Letterman appearance is still on, as is his appearance at the Sports Emmys at Lincoln Center.
And Rex kept his schedule for meetings with Jets reporters and others at Random House in New York City today to discuss his new book, "Play Like You Mean It: Passion, Laughs, and Leadership in the World's Most Beautiful Game," written with Don Yaeger and published by Doubleday
Looking regal and legal in a charcoal suit, white shirt, black and white checked tie — everything in B&W except for his gold Super Bowl rings on his right (plus some unspecified Jets green he said he was wearing, which turned out to be the lining of his jacket) — Ryan sat facing the window in the 19th floor conference room looking out onto Central Park three blocks away. First he signed books for about 20 Random House employees. Then he entertained a variety of questions on his book from assembled reporters.
One of the first that came to mind for the reporters and will for a number of fans is "Why this book? Why now? What have you done?"
"Well, I thought we'd win the Super Bowl first ... no, just kidding," Rex said before explaining his rationale for churning out the words after a two-year NFL head-coaching career that has produced two AFC Championship Game appearances.
"I've always said how blessed I've been to become a head coach. It's an incredible opportunity," he said. "This gives me the platform to show the fans — and I'm a fan, too — the inner workings of what takes place. This would be an opportunity for me to say this is what it's like."
So he went into the details of what it's taken to get the Jets to this point, with his friendly nature but no holds barred. Some of those details have already gotten some play, and Ryan fielded questions on them, such as the perceived slap at the Giants that has gotten some of Big Blue's following riled up.
"That's the beauty of this sport," he said. "I know as much about Giants history as probably 90 percent of their fans and even the people in the building. I know about Charlie Conerly, Jim Katcavage, Sam Huff. I can tell you about all those guys. I'm not trying to disrespect their past at all.
"But when I came here I didn't come here to play second fiddle to the Giants or to anybody else. I base things on facts and beliefs. When I say something I believe, it's from my heart. We've played better than the Giants the last two years and those are the only two years I've been here. What happens the next eight years, we're getting ready to find out."
Ryan also wrote about some observations regarding the departures of Kerry Rhodes, Eric Barton, Chris Baker and Vernon Gholston that raised some eyebrows. Of Rhodes, he said:
"My problem with Kerry, I thought he had more to give. I wanted him to spend more time with [DBs coach] Dennis Thurman. I said he was Hollywood, but I don't care — that's great. But it was the work ethic. I don't think he gave it to us. Maybe he's giving it to Arizona now."
Gholston was another story. Rex said there were a few words he might've chosen differently if he were writing the book now and one of them is that Gholston was "a phony."
"What I meant were his numbers [at the 2008 NFL Combine workouts] were phony. He didn't play up to them — nobody could play up to them. ... But I was proud of Vernon. He did get better. I have a huge amount of respect for Vernon Gholston. ... I appreciate the two years he was there."
Ryan got into a lot of other topics in the book, from the background to the selection of Mark Sanchez to the background of the Jets appearing in "Hard Knocks" last August. He also was asked to comment on the irony of his dyslexia — a story that we broke for Jets fans on newyorkjets.com with Rex back in June 2009 and that he retold in the book — and that he is now a published author. "No way I thought this was possible," he said.
He also talked about growing up as the son of an NFL head coach, Buddy Ryan, which led him to become a fan of the game, a ballboy of the Jets for a number of years beginning in 1968. Buddy, Rex said, just had surgery and just came out of the ICU. "He's doing good, thanks for asking," Ryan said. "He got the first copy of the book."
Rex even had a comment that will get some circulation today about the killing of bin Laden.
"My first thought was that 9/11, 10 years ago, was probably the worst day in this country's history, or one of them for sure," he said. "Quite honestly, I was happy we got him."
And shortly after that, Ryan was on his way to the next stop on the tour.
Writer Wins Award from Writers
Ryan also learned today that the Professional Football Writers Association honored him when it announced its annual awards today.
Ryan was named the recipient of the Horrigan Award, which the PFWA presents to a person (not a player and not a team public relations staffer) whose qualities and professional style helped the media best do its job in the past season.