It was a much closer game than it should’ve been (the only game in the history of the NFL to end with a 16-11 final score) but it was a hard fought victory (with a literal fight/brawl mixed in) and for that the players choose to present their beloved Coach Rex Ryan with the game ball.
This win won’t be enough to save Ryan’s job, neither would a win in their next two games at this point, but the players still wanted to express just how much love and respect they have for their head coach.
“I just want to say one thing,” D’Brickashaw Ferguson said ( video on the Jets website). “We’ve been all battling, we’ve been all struggling, but we really appreciate everything you’ve done Coach. And we want to give you a game ball.”
The player’s presented Ryan with the game ball in the locker room after the win with both Woody Johnson and John Idzik looking on as spectators. Ryan appreciated the gesture and passed the ball onto his favorite coach.
“Oh shoot, it was great. It is always great to get a game ball and it was great because my dad was actually at the game. I actually passed it on to him,” Ryan said. “It was a little extra motivation with my dad being in the stadium able to watch the game. He hasn’t been able to do that this year, so that felt really good and felt better to give him the ball.”
Buddy Ryan has been battling cancer along with a number of other health issues but as Rex put it “he keeps trucking along.”
“He loved it. It was great,” Rex said. “He has had some tough battles lately, but it was great to put a smile on his face.”
The Jet players really don’t want to lose their coach but they know that decision is out of their hands and you can sense they know his fate is already sealed.
“He is an exceptional coach to play for. He’s a player’s coach. It has been really good. I came from a player’s coach in Seattle and when I came into another player’s coach it has been awesome,” Breno Giacomini said. “I don’t want him to go anywhere. We all know this is a business, so I am going to do what I can do and that is go out there and fight for my head coach on the field. (Coach Ryan returning) is something that I cannot control. What I can control is the effort that I leave on the field for him and the rest of my teammates.”
Playing, in the midst of a 3-11 season, with the cloud of their coach’s eventual firing cannot be easy of the players but they know they have a job to do until then and they’ll keep fighting to try and get their coach some more wins and game balls on his way out.
“I think we handle it as professionals. I think at the end of the day we all understand this is a business. So, we play hard for him, we prepare for him and we do our job. As professionals, we have a job to do,” Quinton Coples said. “That is our focus. We don’t get caught up with what is going on, any speculations, or any other things. We just go out and play hard, not only for our jobs, but also for our coach as well.”