The man who enthralled then infuriated New York Jets fans before spending two years on the Buffalo Bills sideline apparently is done with coaching — for now, at least. ESPN said today that it has signed Rex Ryan to join its NFL pregame show and contribute elsewhere as well.
Ryan — a love-him-or-hate-him, bigger-than-life personality who coached the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games in 2009-10 before missing the playoffs the next four seasons — will make weekly appearances on Sunday NFL Countdown and contribute to SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and elsewhere.
“Rex is authentic – what you see is what you get, and that will be great for our viewers on Sunday NFL Countdown,” said Seth Markman, Senior Coordinating Producer for ESPN’s NFL studio shows.
Said Ryan, who coached the Buffalo Bills for the past two seasons: “This is going to be a new experience for me, and I am really excited about it. I’ve been a coach for 30 years, and I’ve been around football my entire life. I’m passionate about the game – just like the fans are, and I’ve coached in the league for a long time, so that’s the perspective I will bring to ESPN. I’m just going to show up and be myself and have fun with it.”
Ryan spent nine years as an assistant coach for the Baltimore Ravens, winning Super Bowl XXXV with the team after the 2000 season. His hire comes days after former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez left CBS Sports after being a member of its The NFL Today team for three years. That opening fuels speculation that the network is continuing to pursue retired quarterback Peyton Manning for its Sunday pregame show.