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Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow, work to overcome dyslexia

Jets head coach Ryan is flanked by quarterbacks Tebow and Sanchez during Jets training camp practice in Cortland, New York Reuters

Maybe the reason Rex Ryan signed off on the Tim Tebow trade was because they spoke the same language.

Or, more accurately, shared the same language processing disability.

Both the Jets coach and backup quarterback have grown up dealing with dyslexia, a fight they’ve won en route to NFL success.

Neither has let the condition be a roadblock, but it has forced them into different ways to learn the game beyond Xs and Os on a printed page.

“And that’s kind of how he plays, right?” Ryan said of Tebow, via Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger. “He finds a way to win. When you look at it, it might not be a traditional way, but all he does, he finds ways to win. And he certainly did that against us in Denver (last season), you know what I mean?”

Tebow was born into a family familiar with dyslexia, with his father and older brother both diagnosed. He found out in elementary school and began dealing with it, while Ryan didn’t discover he had it until he was in his  40s.

When you make your living translating plays on a page onto the field, that can be a problem. But when Tebow arrived at the Jets, quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh asked him how he learned best, and Tebow told him by doing rather than being shown.

“So much in football is touching, feeling, walking through, writing it on boards, drawing Xs and Os,” Tebow said. “And all those are the best for me.”

“It has to do with finding out how you learn, and you really get it done quickly. I’m not somebody that opens a playbook and just turns and reads and reads. That doesn’t do it for me. So I just made flashcards, I take each one, and then boom, when I’m traveling, I just flip through it. That really helped me. Writing it down, flipping through and quizzing myself, that was a great way for me to do it.”

Ryan said in his experience, overcoming dyslexia turned him into a problem-solver, and he thought that applied to his quarterback as well.

“I don’t think it makes me respect him more, because I respect coach Ryan a lot,” Tebow said. “What it does is just show that learning disabilities, especially dyslexia, have nothing to do with how smart or intelligent someone is. Because there are not many minds in the NFL that are as bright or as sharp or as flexible as coach Ryan’s.”

“That’s one of the coolest things to hear coach Ryan’s story. It’s something to share with kids, that, ‘Hey, it is not a big deal.’ You can overcome it. You just figure out how you learn, and what’s right for you.”

While it’s easy to joke about Jets fatigue, with the (over)-coverage they’ve received this summer, this is a story that needed to be written, and more people need to read, until the stigma that goes along with learning disabilities is gone.

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9 Responses to “Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow, work to overcome dyslexia”
  1. CKL says: Aug 3, 2012 8:23 AM

    All jokes aside, Tebow might never have been able to become a QB if they hadn’t diagnosed him early.
    RR is more of my generation, when they simply didn’t understand what was going on with dyslexia and just put those kids in slow classes. Even in good schools. I’m glad there’s been progress with this.

  2. awdlmd says: Aug 3, 2012 9:44 AM

    It’s great to overcome your limitations but this really does hurt Tebow as a QB. In addition to his major accuracy issues he also has a serious issue with on field information processing speed. He is an NFL player for sure but the sooner he and the Jets realize that he is a RB who can throw and not a QB who can run, the more successful he will be.

  3. hugejazz says: Aug 3, 2012 10:02 AM

    First person to crack wise (even “thumbing down”) about Tebow and dyslexia is the first loser. Period. End of story.

    You have no idea how hard it can be.

  4. beavertonsteve says: Aug 3, 2012 11:44 AM

    It’s pretty sad considering that 99.9% of them came from our universities, but I’m not even sure every player in the NFL can read.

  5. meangreen78 says: Aug 3, 2012 11:49 AM

    nwodhcuot

  6. mike83ri says: Aug 3, 2012 1:41 PM

    I wonder if being both dyslexic and left-handed makes it twice as hard, or actually makes dealing with the dyslexia easier.

  7. trevor123698 says: Aug 3, 2012 2:29 PM

    They may have a legitamite dylexia, but the book “Lets Play Doctor” by Joel Wallach (which is far more accurate than anything a doctor will EVER tell you) says that this is likely nothing more than a food alergy for these two, and that this can easily be treated with vitamin B-3, b-6, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, and essential fatty acids. Dr Joel Wallach’s supplements are the best around at treating a wide ranger of diseases.

    ANy disease you have, buy this book and follow his direction. I promise you, you will never regret doing so except maybe the early stages of this when you spend money to fix yourself and are wondering if it will work. I can promise you it will

  8. catquick says: Aug 3, 2012 3:27 PM

    It’s success have amazing such malady they trough much so have this!

  9. nfloracle says: Aug 3, 2012 3:39 PM

    I realized I was dyslexic when I went to a toga party dressed as a goat.

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