There's more drama coming viewers' way on a future episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks." Jets coach Rex Ryan announced Thursday that former coach Tony Dungy has accepted his invitation for a training camp visit to discuss his criticism of Ryan's liberal use of profanity and possibly to prevail upon the Jets coach to listen to his better angels.
This has HBO Original Series stamped all over it or at least the makings of a buddy movie. Dungy, a devout Christian, is the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl, and Ryan is the brash, wise-cracking son of former NFL head coach Buddy Ryan, who talked loudly and carried a smashmouth defense his whole career. Like father, like son.
After Dungy criticized Ryan's salty language in a national radio interview on Monday, Ryan said on Wednesday that he felt Dungy "unfairly judged" him. At the same time, Ryan appears to have toned down his cursing somewhat.
Certainly, it was obvious Ryan was pleased that Dungy agreed to visit, although no specific date has been set yet. "He's excited to come see us, and we're excited to have him," Ryan said of Dungy. "I look forward to having him come up and see what we're all about."
Their planned tete-a-tete is especially interesting considering that, when Ryan was named coach of the Jets last year, he went out of his way to say he wouldn't kiss the Super Bowl rings of New England coach Bill Belichick or worry what any other rivals might think about his style. But Dungy is a different matter. First, he's now a television commentator, but more importantly, Dungy is so widely respected that his criticism mattered to Ryan because it cut to the core of who he is as a person.
Ryan said he never has met Dungy other than to face him across the field as rivals. Asked about the tenor of their telephone conversation, Ryan couldn't pass up a straight line, saying, "It was definitely heated…" Then, he broke into a mischievous smile at his joke, knowing how the media can take a flip remark and run with it.
"No, we just talked man to man, and it was good," Ryan said. "I just wanted him to know how I felt. He told me his position, and I definitely told him my position. It was good. He knows some people I know. There's positive things being said about me, and I'm glad he talked to that [unidentified] person."