Matthew Havel, a 30-year-old man from Pueblo, Colorado, says that after spending time talking with the brothers as well as Rob's son, Matt, a walk-on defensive lineman at Clemson, and James, a member of Ryan's extended family, the interaction abruptly turned hostile and violent.
Cooper Stefaniak @CooperStef
Rob and Rex Ryan crushing Nashville @barstoolsports @BarstoolBigCat https://t.co/AxktGa0Hn72017-6-4 23:39:32
Bleacher Report confirmed Havel is the man in the video via pictures provided that corroborated online video. Havel says they approached the table nearly an hour before the scuffle, developing a rapport with the family.
"We didn't say anything like, 'You guys are bad coaches.' We were sitting there for an hour, hour-and-a-half, talking, and then it wasn't with them, it was with the son and the nephew," Havel says. "Then we had pictures of Matthew's championship ring on my wife's hand. You don't let that out of your hand for anybody."
The absence of heckling, however, is disputed by the brothers, according to a source familiar with the situation, who says Rex was getting annoyed due to "heckling from the uninvited guests," which led to Rex "trying to keep the peace."
In the moments prior to what's depicted in the now-viral video, Havel says that he initially thought Rex was standing up to go to the bathroom when, all of a sudden, the former Jets and Bills coach was yelling at him. As he turned around, Havel says Rob then grabbed his neck.
"All of a sudden, they were coming at me in a blur," Havel says. "It happened so quick."
Sean Gentille @seangentille
Rob and Rex Ryan are still posted up at Margaritaville, talking to everyone who walks past. https://t.co/C0uqVKqWQF2017-6-4 23:15:11
Rex Ryan, an employee of ESPN, was unavailable for comment, according to ESPN public relations. A person on the phone representing the Nashville Margaritaville location declined to comment on the incident. Havel says he filed a police report but does not know if a lawsuit will follow.
"If you're an average Joe, anybody else doing that, they would be in jail," Havel says. "They just sat there, and nothing happened, taking pictures with people coming up to them."