It started a few days before the 2009 AFC championship game, when then first-year New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan stepped on a scale and realized that, at 6-foot-3, he had ballooned up to 348 pounds. Buddy Ryan's son, the twin brother of Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, realized that something needed to be done. He'd have to change his life, cut out the 7,000-calorie "Rexican" dinners that could include up to 12 tacos, and go a different way.
"I mean, I couldn't believe it," Ryan recently said. "I swear to you, I wanted to look to see if someone was behind me."
Less than three years later, Rex has certainly figured it out. Between lap-band surgery and a lot of different lifestyle choices, he's down to 248 pounds -- in other words, he weighs less than Tim Tebow, who might be his starting quarterback in 2012 when all is said and done.
"I think we look similar -- except he's left-handed and I'm right-handed," Ryan quipped during a media appearance to promote the lap-band surgery procedure.
Ryan's waist size has gone from 48 to 38 inches, his cholesterol is below 150, and his blood pressure is 120 over 75. All according to the man himself.
"I know how fortunate I am," Ryan said of the change. "I make a lot of money doing something I love. I'm only one of 32 guys that has this position -- head coach in the National Football League. But without your health, what do you really have?
"I want to see my kids grow up, and I want to see their kids grow up. That was important to me. Selfishly, that's why I did it."
His players give him grief over the weight loss, and his oldest son Payton now claims that dad has a "six-pack."
"Yeah, I'll drink one," he said.
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