As the news of Buddy Ryan’s death circulated on Tuesday morning, the stories started to unearth themselves.
And there were plenty of stories.
For as good a defensive coach as Ryan was, he was an even bigger personality. Brash, vocal, unapologetic. He said what was on his mind and that usually led to plenty of laughs.
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If you haven’t read it, go ahead and take some time to read this Reuben Frank story about a beat writers dinner with Buddy that included a long wine list, a stretch limo and, of course, a ton of laughs.
On Tuesday’s addition of Quick Slants, former Eagles star Seth Joyner joined Frank and Ron Burke and delivered this gem of a story about the coach's loyalty to his players.
To set the scene, Joyner was set to enter his third NFL season in 1988 after making the minimum of $75,000 in his second year. In 1987, he started 12 games, had two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, one returned for a touchdown. He also led the team’s linebackers in tackles with 96.
Joyner thought he deserved a pay raise, so he held out of training camp.
And Buddy had his back — just not publicly.
“I can remember the year that I held out,” Joyner started the story. “He basically told me before it happened, he was like 'listen, you're holding out, do what you have to do. When you're contract is up, you have to do what you have to do for your family and I 100 percent respect that. And listen, there's some things that I have to do as the head coach of this football team. So you're going to hear some things, don't pay them any attention. Just go on about your business and you handle your business. When that contract is signed, I expect you to come in and do what you do best, play and go to work.'
“Well, you know, the whole time I was out of training camp and I spent the whole training camp holding out, he's in the newspaper, he's on the radio, he's just on the news, he's just lambasting me. 'He better get his blankety-blank in here. He's going to lose his job, this kid is playing well, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah. He's applying the pressure according to what management would want him to do to get me to hurry up and sign for less than what I should have signed for and just get into training camp.
“But I'm sitting at home laughing at all of this because we had already had that conversation. So I know what he's doing. Now, you tell me: how many head coaches would do that with their players, ahead of time to let them know what the circumstances are going to be? It's those types of things that made us love Buddy. It's those types of things that made us go to bat for him and would make us run through a brick wall for this guy. Because we knew that he had our back and he always was doing things for our benefit, even if it meant he would take heat.”
If you need some proof of the types of statements Ryan made publicly about Joyner’s holdout, look no further than this Aug. 16, 1988 Daily News story from Tim Kawakami (who plays a big role in Roob’s story).
Here’s what Buddy said in that one: "I think no question, Joyner needs to be in camp. I've told his agent that, and I've told Harry that. So somebody ought to give."
And: "It's like, I could call him right now and he'd be in here tomorrow. But I'm not going to do that because he has to live with what he gets, and I don't want him to be saying, 'Well, Buddy screwed me.' But for his own good, he ought to be here."
Meanwhile, Joyner was likely sitting in his living room laughing.
Joyner told his story Tuesday when asked about why players became so loyal to Ryan. Basically, it was because Ryan was loyal to them.
Joyner, last weekend, went with Clyde Simmons and Ryan’s longtime agent Jim Solano to visit his coach one last time in Kentucky, at the urging of Solano.
“It's amazing how things kind of work out sometimes,” Joyner said. “We got an opportunity to see him for a final time and it was special just to be with him, let him know that we loved him and he definitely shared the love back with us.”