- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Who figured that the Big Easy would be the place for a 50-year-old man to learn etiquette?
Rob Ryan, who was known as much for his blunt, brash personality as his blitz packages during his brief stint as the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator, has gone to great pains to mind his manners when speaking publicly since being hired by the New Orleans Saints.
That continued Friday, with Ryan taking the high road in his weekly press conference before facing the Cowboys despite a handful of Dallas media members trying their best to bait him into providing headline fodder.
When the Cowboys faced the Cleveland Browns, Ryan's former team, he made no bones about holding a grudge. But Ryan, who has quickly become a cult figure of sorts in New Orelans, insists that isn't the case with this reunion.
"If I worried about every team that's fired me, hell, I'd have a grudge every week," Ryan cracked to reporters. "This is a huge game for both teams. Hey, this is what it is. That's how this sport is. People change teams.
"Thank God it's not like hockey coaches yet, where they just keep changing them every period. It is the way it is. I love those players out there. They were great to me, as well as everyone in that organization, and I was fortunate to be with them for two years."
Ryan readily admits he was "pissed" when the Cowboys fired him, a decision that was relayed to him while he was relaxing on the beach in Turks and Caicos on a family vacation. He famously said at the time that he'd be "out of work for like five minutes." It took a bit longer than that -- and a little layover in St. Louis -- before Ryan settled in New Orleans, but he's certainly pleased with his current situation.
The Saints are 6-2, and Ryan has played an integral role in their success this season. New Orleans, which allowed the most yards in league history last season, is ninth in total defense and fifth in scoring defense.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys moved on with Monte Kiffin and rank second to last in total defense and are in the middle of the pack in scoring defense.
"You just have to come to the conclusion that not everybody thinks like I do," Ryan said of his departure from Dallas. "I always think I'm going to do great because I pour everything I got into the job. Some people don't think it's good enough and they fire you and you get pissed because you've done your best. Whatever happens, happens.
"I'm excited to be here. This is the most excited about any spot that I've ever been. I love it here in New Orleans. I love this team. I love these players. I love how the team is run. I love the organization. It feels like home, and it's a great spot for me."
Maybe Ryan is still bitter about being whacked by Jerry Jones, but he definitely didn't want to make a big deal about it this week. He had nothing but high praise for the Cowboys, particularly the offense with "a ton of weapons" the Saints will face Sunday night.
He'll leave the hard feelings to his dad, Buddy Ryan, whose hatred of the Cowboys dates to his days as the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach.
"I think my dad had genuine hate for Dallas," Ryan said, "and I don't."
Ryan's got a lot of love for New Orleans, and that feeling is mutual.