Rex Ryan and the Most Beloved Head Coaches in the NFL

Joe CipollaContributor IOctober 17, 2010

Rex Ryan and the Most Beloved Head Coaches in the NFL

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    Rex Ryan seems to be the kind of coach you either love or hate.  These days, it looks like there are more lovers than haters on the Ryan bandwagon.

    There's no denying that Rex is a loudmouth and tends to put his team in situations where they have to back up his claims.  But in all his trash-talking bravado, it is always stated in a manner that shows a genuine love and respect for his players.  This is evident in how many of his players give the impression that they would follow Rex off the edge of a cliff.

    "Rex Daddy" (as he was affectionately called by his Ravens defensive players) had this kind of reputation as defensive coordinator in Baltimore, and he has it as the head coach of the Jets.  Just look at how easy it was for Rex to get former Ravens standouts like Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard to follow him to NY.  And the fact that Trevor Pryce eagerly went to the Jets after the Ravens released him, meanwhile knowing that the Ravens had every intention of bringing him back at the end of the week. 

    Pryce had this to say about Ryan: "I know you guys have talked about this, and it’s been said a billion times, but it’s more along the lines of saying, you want to play for Rex. He makes you want to play for him... He instills a confidence to you that you don’t have. I got released from Denver and that whole thing went down and he just thought I was more than I knew I was. By doing that, you don’t want to let somebody like that down. I became something that, it’s hard to explain, it made you want to live up to what he said about you. That’s the biggest compliment I can give him."

    Rex Ryan isn't the only head coach in the history of the NFL to receive such adoration.  Here is a look at 10 of the most beloved coaches in NFL history...five from the present, and five from the past.

Bill Belichick

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    I'll get this one out of the way now since I personally can't stand Belichick.  It probably has something to do with me being a Jets fan.

    There is no denying that in New England, Bill Belichick is practically a deity.  Rex Ryan may not want to "kiss his rings", but there are plenty of people who are more than willing.

    With his three Super Bowl rings and borderline genius coaching (even when he's not videotaping opponents' practices) he's easily regarded as one of he greatest head coaches of all time.  And the fact that any of his players seem to be willing to take a bullet for him cements his legacy as one of the most beloved coaches ever.

Mike Shanahan

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    Shanahan is a proven winner...and who doesn't love a winner.

    With an overall record of 146-95-0 and a postseason record of 8-5 with back-to-back Superbowl victories (one of only six coahces to do so), Shananhan is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history.

    He treats all his player with the respect they deserve, and they love him for it. 

    Redskins LB London Fletcher had this to say about Coach Shanahan:

    “Coach Shanahan should be the No. 1-rated coach in the league. He’s won back-to-back Super Bowls. He’s a proven winner. His approach to the game, the way he handles this team, is great. … He treats us like men.”

Jeff Fisher

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    Jeff Fisher is in his 17th season as head coach of the Titans (they were the Oilers for his first five seasons) and is the longest tenured head coach in the NFL.  That right there says enough about how well liked he is by the organization and the players.

    Fisher also comes from excellent NFL coaching pedigree.  He was a coach under legendary head coaches Mike Ditka, Buddy Ryan and George Seifert.

    The only think missing from Fisher's fairly stellar resume is a Super Bowl victory.  An achievement that came up one yard short in Super Bowl XXXIV in what became know as "The Tackle".

Mike Tomlin

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    Tomlin is currently in his fourth season as the Steelers head coach.  And what he's done in this short amount of time is extraordinary.

    He has a current overall record of 38-18-0 (as of this writing) and a 3-1 post-season record including a Super Bowl win...the youngest head coach to do so.

    Tomlin replaced a Steeler legend in coach Bill "The Chin" Cowher, and he was smart enough to retain most of Cowher's coaching staff (especially Dick LeBeau). 

    His coaching style was very rough in his first season, and it garnered some resentment from many veteran Steelers.  But Tomlin changed his style, and it didn't go unnoticed, as he is now well respected by his players. 

    Steelers LB James Farrior said this of Tomlin:

    "What he’s done since he’s been here has been phenomenal. His first year, he was a little hard on us, but he learned from that and the next year he changed a couple things and we were very successful."

Sean Payton

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    Before last season, the Saints were arguably the most snake-bitten team in the NFL.  Bringing the first Lombardi Trophy to Katrina torn New Orleans will forever cement him as legend in Louisiana.  The fans love him, the media loves him and most of all, his players love him.

    Saints QB Drew Brees has this to say about Payton:

    "With the exception of training camp, guys have fun here. So I would say, more than anything, the way that Sean Payton is able to complement and combine that very disciplined, fair but stern attitude, with, ‘Hey, we’re going to have fun, and we’re going to enjoy what we do,’ is what makes him a great coach.”

Dick Vermeil

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    Break out the tissues.  The only coach who ever cried as much as Vermeil is probably Joe Torre.  But Dick cried for good reason.  It was always because of how much he cared for his much to the point that many of them looked up to Vermeil as a father-figure.

    Plus, the man is beloved in every city he's coached in.  Philadelphia, St. Louis and Kansas City...the people of these metropolises love him and appreciate what he did for their franchises. 

    He may not have won too many rings, but it can't be denied that he's made every team he's coached better.

Tom Landry

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    Landry was the head coach for the Dallas Cowboys for 29 seasons.  He is the longest tenured coach in NFL history.  That says enough of the man's legacy as a beloved coach. There's also a bronze statue of him outside Cowboys Stadium.

Bill Cowher

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    The Chin is in! 

    Bill Cowher was the head coach of the Steelers for 15 seasons, and he replaced a Pittsburgh legend in Chuck Noll.

    In contrast to Noll's laid back style of coaching, Cowher was fiery and in-your-face.  He got rid of all but one of Noll's coaching staff and immediately showed results going 11-5 in his first season.  And in just four season, he had the Steelers back in the Super Bowl (loss to the Cowboys in SB XXX).  10 years later, he would hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

    It was Cowher's fiery attitude that got his team to love to play for him.  He seemed more like a player than a coach.  It was almost as if he'd rather be out on the field with the men than on the sidelines calling plays.

Bill Parcells

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    The Tuna!

    Bill Parcells has a reputation for turning around franchises.  Turning losing teams into winners will always make a coach popular.

    The Giants had one winning season in 10 years before Parcells took over.  He led them to two Super Bowl victories. 

    The Patriots hadn't made the playoff in six seasons before Parcells.  In two season, he had them in the playoffs, in season three, the Super Bowl (a loss to the Packers).

    The Jets were a dismal organization before Parcells.  They had a combined record of 4-28 in the two seasons before the Tuna.  In his first season he led them to a winning record, in his second, he led the Jets to the AFC Championship game (loss to the Broncos)

    The Cowboys had three straight 5-11 seasons before Parcells.  In his first season, Parcells led them to a 10-6 record and the playoffs.

    Parcells is the first head coach in NFL history to guide four different teams to the playoffs 

Vince Lombardi

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    The ultimate award in the NFL is named after him...enough said.