Did you ever wonder how NFL coaches manage their time?
NFL Network aired an entertaining and informative four-part roundtable series this week as Andrea Kremer discussed the topics of family, schedule, locker room and health with Jets head coach Rex Ryan in addition to Giants HC Tom Coughlin, Cardinals HC Bruce Arians and Ravens HC John Harbaugh.
"They are mighty men that play this, but we're fortunate enough to get to coach these guys and to build a relationship with them," says Coach Ryan in one segment. "All of that takes time and things like that. But at the end of the day, it's probably the most rewarding profession there is."
But Ryan is not without regrets. While serving as a first-year NFL assistant on Buddy Ryan's Arizona Cardinals staff, Rex missed the birth of his eldest son, Payton Ryan.
"It was actually at a minicamp. My wife was like 10 days over, but she was still teaching," Ryan told Kremer. "She was supposed to hang in there like two more days and [Michelle] is tough. But I got that call and then I realized how stupid it was that I wasn't there. That's my biggest regret in coaching. Absolutely."
Decades later, Ryan had no second thoughts when traveled to watch his youngest son, Seth, suit up for the first time at Clemson. He received criticism for electing to support the walk-on WR despite getting permission from GM John Idzik to step away for family matters during the roster cut-down process.
"It was the first college game. It's something that I'd do a zillion times over again," he said as Kremer held up a copy of the New York Daily News. "What's great is that I think there were five other coaches that did the same thing – I'm the only one they singled out for some reason…But you know what, they can write it next year too. If I get that opportunity, I'll go again."
Ryan has had plenty of wonderful football opportunities afforded to him because of the game he loves.
Back in 1985, he was on the sideline with his twin brother, Rob, as the Chicago Bears crushed the New England Patriots, 46-3, in Super Bowl XX. Immediately after that contest, the Bears carried his father off the field on their shoulders. Rex Ryan got his sole championship ring in Super Bowl XXXV down in Tampa, FL when the Ravens stymied the Giants by a 34-7 score.
"I think the only time it's ever happened in the history of the National Football League [they carried] an assistant coach. You talk about feeling great, that was unbelievable," he told Kremer. "And then being there yourself as a coach and then looking around like, 'Oh my gosh, I made it myself.' It's incredible."
The life of a football coach certainly isn't for everybody. The late nights, the early mornings and the peer pressure of keeping up with fellow staffers and coaches throughout the NFL can be trying.
"What I would do, and John (Harbaugh) could tell you, is I used to leave the building," said Ryan, who coached alongside Harbaugh with the Ravens in 2008. "I would go out for a half hour, something like that, and then come back in. Then, it's just me. The guys would stay around just because of your position. They figure if coach is there or a coach in a higher authority or whatever is still there, then I better be there. I certainly didn't want that."