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Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Puck-stopping Ryan thrilled about Toronto


With a mix of rain and snow flurries expected in the Greater Niagara Region this week, the New York Jets and their California quarterback gladly will meet the Buffalo Bills in the comfy confines beneath the Rogers Centre's retractable roof.

The Jets and Bills will play Thursday night in Toronto, a homecoming for Jets rookie head coach Rex Ryan.

Ryan and his twin brother, Rob, the Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator, were born in Ardmore, Okla. But after Doris and Buddy Ryan divorced, the boys moved to Toronto, where she pursued a career in higher education and eventually became vice president of the University of New Brunswick.

The twins lived there from the age of 3 to 15, when Doris decided her football-mad sons would benefit more from Buddy's oversight.

At his Monday news conference, Rex Ryan reminisced about his youth in Toronto:

"It was kind of neat. First, when we moved out there, I never knew how to skate. Some would argue I still can't skate. You have to play hockey, or you weren't going to play any sport really. So I learned how to play hockey.

"I always wanted to be out there on the ice. That's what was so weird about hockey; you kept shifting in and out. I was like 'No, I'm going to play goalie because he's out there all the time. Plus he had the coolest equipment.' So that's what I did. I was the catcher in baseball. So I'm just used to having things thrown at me, obviously, as a coach. I was a natural, but it was a lot of fun.

"Toronto is a great town. I never thought I'd see the day where the NFL would be playing a game in Toronto. I certainly never envisioned myself coaching a team that would be playing in Toronto. It's a great opportunity for us. It's a great town, and, hopefully, we can convert some of those hockey fans to become New York Jets fans."

Ryan also expressed excitement about taking the NFL to an unusual locale.

The Bills last year sold eight games to a Toronto promoter for $78 million. The Bills will play one regular-season game there for the next five years and three preseason games over the term.

The Miami Dolphins caught a break last December. They played the Bills in the Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome) with the outside weather brutally cold and windy. In the spirit of the setting, I can tell you it was minus-7 Celsius. The Dolphins easily won what was a critical game in determining the playoffs.

"I think it will be great. I think they'll be wanting us to punt on third down. The fact that there's no 55-yard line I think will be a new wrinkle for them, but you'd be surprised. There are a lot of NFL fans right there in that Toronto area.

"Obviously, you've got Buffalo right up the road. I think it's going to be great. I'm glad we're doing it. We just want to win. We don't care if it's in Toronto, in Buffalo or right here. Makes no difference to us. We're going to do whatever it takes to get a win."