Rex Ryan: Vernon Gholston a 'phony'

Updated: April 28, 2011, 10:34 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It's vintage Rex Ryan -- defiant, opinionated and cocky. But that's on paper, not in a sound bite.

In his soon-to-be-released book, the outspoken Ryan retraces his first two seasons as the New York Jets' coach, blasting Kerry Rhodes and other former Jets, tweaking Tom Brady (again) and predicting a decade of dominance over the cross-town rival Giants.

Ryan also reveals that he tried to talk Brett Favre out of retirement and how "incredibly disappointed" he was that Tony Dungy called him out last summer for his cursing on the HBO reality series, "Hard Knocks."

Ryan said "it really upset me" to be publicly criticized by Dungy, the Super Bowl-winning former coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Ryan said he was "incredibly disappointed that he judged me the way he did," mostly because of Dungy's references to Ryan's father, Buddy.

"To say comments like, 'He grew up with that' and 'He gets it from his father' -- well, you know what? You're darn right I do, and I'm awful proud of that," said Ryan, adding that he later had a "great" meeting with Dungy to clear the air.

The book, entitled "Play Like You Mean It," written with Don Yeager, also highlights Ryan's unusual management style. In one anecdote, Ryan tells how he enlisted the help of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to help him forge a bond with troubled wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

There are no bombshell revelations in the book, due to be released next week, but Ryan slams some of his old players, Rhodes in particular.

"He was a selfish-ass guy," Ryan says of the veteran safety, who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals last offseason. "He wouldn't work and he was a Hollywood type, flashing and needing attention."

Ryan also manages to tweak Vernon Gholston, the draft bust who was released after three disappointing seasons. Ryan was a Baltimore Ravens assistant when the Jets drafted Gholtson, but he says he warned then-coach Eric Mangini not to select him.

"Truth be told, I didn't like the kid coming out of college," says Ryan, claiming he did his best to coach Gholston once he came to the Jets in 2009. "He's a good athlete and a smart guy, but I thought he was a phony."

He dedicates a chapter to last season, entitled "2010 ... A Wild Ride," and discusses several things that made news on and off the field, such as the Ines Sainz incident -- "It shook me up beyond belief" -- and when a coach tripped a Miami Dolphins player on the sideline.

"I'm telling you right now, I had no idea about it," he wrote. "Mike Westhoff, our special-teams coach, had no idea about it. I promise you that. I'd happily take a lie-detector test to prove it."

Ryan also singles out former Jets Eric Barton and Chris Baker for being "negative guys," the reason why he let them go. Actually, Barton left as a free agent shortly after Ryan arrived.

Ryan also believes that the Jets, two-time AFC finalists, have emerged from the Giants' shadow.

"When people ask me what it's like to share New York with the Giants, my response is always, I am not sharing it with them -- they're sharing it with me," Ryan says, adding, "I know it's going to piss off every Giants fan to hear this, but here you go: We are the better team. We are the big brother."

He doesn't stop there, claiming the Jets are "going to remain the better team for the next 10 years. Whether you like it or not, those are the facts and that's what's going to happen."

Ryan, of course, can't resist a shot at one of his favorite targets, Brady. Responding to Brady's famous quote that he "hates" the Jets, Ryan says the New England Patriots' star is equally despised.

"I really don't know Tom Brady, but who wouldn't hate him?" Ryan said. "Look at his life. Actually, look at his wife. Every man in America hates Tom Brady, and he should be proud of that."

Ryan threw some respect to one of Brady's teammates, Wes Welker, who created headlines during the run-up to last season's playoff game by making foot jokes -- a not-so-subtle shot at Ryan and his wife. Ryan said he bumped into Welker at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, adding that Welker apologized to him and his wife.

"He came up to me and said, 'That was an unbelievable coaching job. You deserve it and I hope you win the whole thing.' He really said that," Ryan wrote. "And I could tell he was sincere."

Ryan thanks several people in the acknowledgments, from Jets owner Woody Johnson to the fans, signing off with: "We've got a championship coming, and I can't wait to celebrate with you!"

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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