Tame reception for Ryan, Enemkpali booed
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) They didn’t burn down the place, or even protest too much when Rex Ryan came onto the field Thursday night at his old stomping grounds.
Dressed in a red vest while his Buffalo Bills players sported garish Scarlett uniforms, Ryan could almost get lost as he walked to the visiting sideline for the first time. There were enough boos that the fans displayed their displeasure with their former coach, but hardly what anyone would call a cascade.
Indeed, former Jets defensive end IK Enemkpali, the player who broke Jets quarterback Geno Smith’s jaw in the preseason, drew more catcalls when he came out for the opening coin toss as a Bills captain.
Ryan paced the sideline before the national anthem, slapping hands with Bills personnel. He didn’t appear to even glance into the stands.
Fans in the MetLife Stadium parking lots had mixed emotions concerning Ryan, who was 50-54 in the regular season and 4-2 in the playoffs with the Jets before being fired at the end of the 2014 season. Not surprisingly, hardly anyone was neutral.
”He was a clown and an embarrassment to the organization,” said Mike Brodersen of Floral Park, New York, who said he goes back to the days of Walt Michaels as coach in the 1970s and `80s. ”He didn’t know how to conduct himself. If can’t manage himself, so how was going to manage the players.
”From the moment they hired him and he started ranting and raving, I was against his being the coach.”
Brodersen predicted the reaction from the fans before kickoff would be ”mixed, but I am hoping there are more boos than anything else.”
Bill Hunziker, a 15-year season ticket holder, was slightly kinder, although he wasn’t particularly impressed with Ryan’s work on the sideline.
”I’m not sure how much coaching he did,” Hunziker said. ”When you talk, you have to back it up, and Rex is always in your face. I don’t think the crowd will be too warm to him.”
Ryan did have his supporters among the fans tailgating beforehand.
”I liked Rex until the end,” said Kary Trocchia of Garden City, New York. ”He did well, got the team to two AFC championship games.”
But like virtually everyone wearing green jerseys in the parking lots, Trocchia wasn’t impressed by Ryan’s decision to make Enemkpali a team captain for Thursday night. Enemkpali infamously broke Smith’s jaw with a punch during training camp, was cut and claimed the next day on waivers by Buffalo.
”That’s something he would do,” she said. ”But you would think he would do something to an opponent to keep it copacetic.”
Not surprisingly, Brodersen was more emphatic about Ryan’s decision on the captain.
”I was disappointed, but it was typical Rex,” he said. ”Totally bush.”
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