In January 2009, the Ravens came to Pittsburgh for a shot at the Super Bowl. Baltimore lost, and defensive coordinator Rex Ryan was dejected.
And then, in the locker room at Heinz Field, he received an offer to become the head coach of the Jets.
“You’re about as low as you can be,” Ryan said, “yet you’re so excited for the new opportunity that’s in front of you.”
Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger pieces together in expert detail the events that led to Ryan becoming the next head coach of the Jets, including a reminder that the Rams were interested in Ryan, too. But for an upset win over the Titans in the division round, Ryan may have been headed to St. Louis instead of New York.
The idea of Ryan coaching the Rams is almost unthinkable, in hindsight. The man wasn’t meant to spice up the bland broth that is the NFC West. Ryan, for better or worse, was born to bring his father Buddy’s bombast to Broadway.
So far, so good. The Jets under Ryan will play in their second straight AFC title game, matching in just two seasons the number of conference championships for which they’d contended since Super Bowl III.
By tonight, the Jets led by Ryan could be heading back to the Super Bowl since Joe Namath reminded the world of his guarantee, wagging a finger as he ran off the field.