Doris Ryan: Rex is 'genuine' and just having fun

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan directs his

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan directs his players against the New England Patriots in the first quarter. (November 29, 2009) (Credit: AP )

When Rex Ryan says he thinks the Jets should be the favorite to win the Super Bowl, he can't possibly really mean that.

Or can he?

Well, his mother thinks so.

"Rex is Rex," Doris Ryan said by phone Friday afternoon. "He'll tell you what he feels, throw in some humor, and that's who he is. He's always been that way."

Speaking from her home in Ardmore, Okla., Ryan said she doesn't like to describe her son as "outspoken." In her eyes, he's simply having fun.

"If you ask him a question, he'll give you the answer," she said, "wherever it is in his head."

As for Rex's propensity to make wild statements, his mother prefers to describe his public persona as "genuine." And she said he hasn't changed anything about his personality in his first year as a head coach.

"He doesn't pretend to be anything that he's not," she said. "He's just Rex. If you don't like it - and some people don't - then they don't like it. But he's himself and that's the way he's always been."

Ryan certainly has brought a different look and feel to the Jets' organization after the intentionally bland machinations of his predecessor, Eric Mangini.

"He just loves what he's doing," Doris Ryan said. "He loves his players and he just loves the game of football and I think it shows in everything he does. He has fun. He really has fun. On the sidelines or up in the stands, his wife and mother might be on pins and needles, but he's really having a good time."

Doris Ryan, who was divorced from Buddy Ryan when Rex was 2 years old, attended the Jets' home opener, a 16-9 victory over the Patriots.

"But I couldn't really enjoy it because I was so nervous," she said.

That's why she said she watches most of her sons' games at home on television. If the Jets and Browns (for whom Rex's twin, Rob, is the defensive coordinator) are on at the same time, she watches one live and DVRs the other. Immediately after the first game ends, she watches the other.

"I don't allow any phone calls or any neighbors in when the game's on," she said. "My friends know: 'Don't call me on game day.' "

An education administration major who received a doctorate from the University of Chicago, Doris Ryan rose to the ranks of vice president of the University of New Brunswick before retiring in 1997. But she sounds as if she knows her football, too. And she's got a good feeling about the Jets' chances Saturday against Cincinnati in an AFC wild-card game.

"As Buddy used to say, 'When you get into the playoffs and the snow flies, you want that running game going,' " she said. "And they've certainly done that and done it very creatively, I must say."

What she won't do, however, is guarantee a win.

She'll leave that sort of thing to her son.

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