This week's regional Sports Illustrated issue features a one-on-one with newly-minted Bills head coach Rex Ryan. Shot at sports bar mecca Big Tree Inn, Bills icons Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas join Ryan on the cover to talk shop with The MMQB's Jenny Vrentas (their roundtable discussion can be viewed here).
The April 20, 2015 issue of Sports Illustrated features Rex Ryan, Jim Kelly, and Thurman Thomas as a regional cover.
Following a tumultuous ending with the Jets, Ryan has landed in Buffalo, infusing the "Rex effect" - personality, excitement and optimism. Though only being named head coach three months ago, Ryan has already won over fans and created a renewed spirit of hope and faith - already illustrated by the increase in season-ticket sales from 47,482 to 53,000 (just shy of their record 57,132 set during the 1992 AFC championships). Described as a Buffalo guy at heart (he drives a pickup truck, drinks beer, wears a throwback jersey and had his Jets tattoo redone to Bills' blue) Ryan is making bold predictions for the team. With a roster loaded with stars –including one, LeSean McCoy, that took only 30 minutes to acquire – they may come true.
Ryan on his expectations for Buffalo: "I want to win the damn Super Bowl. That's what drives me. I don't want to just be known as good. I want to be special. For our team, for our franchise here in Buffalo, that's what we want."
Ryan on lasting longer than his predecessors: "Three years? Hell, I'm blowing the roof off of that. By a bunch."
Ryan on his last days with the Jets: "I wasn't the boss anymore, I was just a guy. Whether they want to say it or not, all of a sudden I became less important to the team. They were trying to pull away from me. Like it was my fault, somehow, that people identified the Jets with me, and that was a bad thing and not a good thing. I was just being who I was. From that point on I knew I wasn't going to be long for that job."
Ryan on Jets owner Woody Johnson: "I want success for Woody Johnson, I do. But don't kid yourself – we're gonna try to kick the s--- out of them when we bring our team in. We're going to try to whip your ass. There are people in that organization who are going to be lifelong friends to me. But this is my damn football family now."
Bills GM Doug Whaley on the new franchise: "We're not only a national brand, we're starting to be a destination because of Rex and what we're building here. We're trying to be a serious contender."
Big Tree Inn owner Brian Duffek to Ryan: "It's huge for the city. I really mean that. You're [Ryan] a Buffalo guy – you just never knew it when you were coaching the Jets."