Rex Ryan defends taking time off to attend Clemson game

AP

Jets coach Rex Ryan wasn’t at the team facility when final roster cuts were due on Saturday because he was attending the Clemson-Georgia game. Some members of the New York media have questioned whether that’s a good use of an NFL head coach’s time during an important point in the season, but Ryan said today that he stands by his decision to make the trip.

Ryan, whose son Seth is a walk-on receiver at Clemson, said that although Saturday was the deadline for the Jets finalizing the 53-man roster, they had actually done most of that work a day earlier.

“Almost all of our moves were made, Friday evening, when I was here,” Ryan said. “I talked to several of the players that we were going to release. I don’t think it was official until – we actually never made our moves until later that evening and that’s why the report came out when it did the next day. It came out Saturday. But certainly I spoke with most of our guys that were released just like I’ve done every year. I was very aware of our situation.”

Ryan said it was important to him to attend his son’s first college football game, even though Seth, as you’d expect for a freshman walk-on, is a bench warmer.

“This was an opportunity to go see my son play his first college game. I think ‘played’ is probably not very accurate. I saw him stand there,” Ryan said with a laugh. “But it was a great deal. Obviously, it’s not like I’m going to be able to go to another game. It just so happened I could make that one. It was a night game. That’s really what I did. I took advantage of it. It was great. I just played dad there for a day. That was a lot of fun.”

This isn’t the first time an NFL coach has faced questions about missing work to see his son in a college football game: In 1994, Cowboys coach Barry Switzer was criticized by his predecessor, Jimmy Johnson, after Switzer skipped a Saturday team meeting to watch his son play college football. Switzer lashed out at Johnson, saying, “My family is a priority for me, my kids are. Jimmy Johnson has told the world that his family doesn’t mean anything to him.”

You can say many things about Rex Ryan, but you can’t say his family isn’t important to him. And if that 53-man roster that was assembled on Saturday isn’t good enough, Ryan may have a whole lot more time to spend with his family next year.