Rex Ryan had one more signing of his book, “Play Like You Mean It,” on Thursday night, but this one was special.
It was conducted at Jets Shop in Manhattan, with hundreds of fans lining up on the plaza in front of the shop on 50th Street waiting for the opportunity to shake the head coach’s hand and get his autograph on the inside of their copy of the book. When Rex arrived before 7 p.m., the group responded with a rousing welcome.
“I’m surprised so many people are out there,” Ryan told reporters before the festivities began about his first visit to the Jets’ merchandise store in the middle of midtown. “That’s why I wanted to do this, to sign some books but also I enjoy mingling with the fans. Someone will say, ‘I’m in Section 222.’ And I’ll say, ‘I have no idea where that is, but I’m glad you’re here.’ “
Part of the attraction of this event was, of course, fans getting a signed copy of the book detailing Ryan’s first two years as the Jets’ head coach for their football libraries. But another element was getting a gift for Dad on Sunday morning, Father’s Day. Ryan was asked about his father, Buddy, who Rex said was doing well after recently leaving the hospital.
“As with many father-son deals where the son inherits the father’s business, whatever that is, I inherited my father’s passion for the game,” he said. “That was passed on to me, and I’m doing what I was meant to be doing, just like he was, and that’s coaching in the National Football League.
“And he’s the best father a guy could have. He’s still my biggest mentor, and the fact that he was an outstanding coach, 25 years ahead of his time also helped.”
Shortly after the reporters were done, the fans entered the shop. First on line was Joel Goldman of Merrick, N.Y., winner of the Jets Facebook contest to lead off the procession.
“It was amazing, very exciting,” Goldman said of the honor. “I’ve been a Jets fan all my life. My grandfather had season tickets at Shea Stadium.” Ryan’s inscription in Goldman’s book: “Super Bowl, here we come.”
The line moved quickly as fans got still photos and video of their experience, shook the coach’s hand and exchanged banter. Adding to the atmosphere was the appearance of three Flight Crew members, Danielle B., Anne-Marie and Michele R., who also posed for photos and signed pictures of the cheerleading squad.
The total for the evening was 425 books sold. Chris Pierce, the Jets’ senior director of merchandising and concessions, loved the number, but he’s also a diehard Jets fan himself and he loved the night’s ambience.
“This is a place for fans to meet and talk about free agency, the draft, the depth chart, the schedule every day of the year,” Pierce said. “Something we do here is have appearances for players, alumni, Flight Crew. We try to make this a true home for Jets fans.
“This is the first time we’re having our head coach here at he shop and we’re really pleased about that,” he added. “Rex is a rock star and he makes every fan he interacts with feel special. The fans were so thankful for the opportunity to meet him, and he, of course, nailed it.”
Tags: Buddy Ryan, Chris Pierce, Jets Shop, Play Like You Mean It, Rex Ryan
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