New Bills coach Rex Ryan has a beer with Jim Kelly, attends Sabres game (photos)
Rex Ryan is making quick work of getting himself comfortable in his new environs as he settles into his new role as Buffalo Bills head coach. In one evening, Ryan ingratiated himself to the Buffalo sports community Tuesday by hanging out with local legend Jim Kelly at a bar and having a beer before attending a Sabres game.
Kelly, the Hall of Fame Bills quarterback and one of the most beloved icons in the sports-crazy town, issued a statement praising the team’s decision to bring in Ryan after former head coach Doug Marrone surprisingly jumped ship on Dec. 31.
“I am very excited about the hiring of Rex Ryan not only because of his coaching ability but also because of how he works with players and how players work for and respect him,” Kelly said in a statement posted to his wife’s Instagram page, via ESPN. “He now has very talented players to go with the enthusiasm he brings to the locker room.”
Kelly and Ryan had a beer together at the Big Tree Inn, a famous bar nearby Ralph Wilson Stadium. Kelly’s wife Jill posted a photo to Instagram of the two fast friends.
“Well this friendship is off to a good start! A cold beer at The Big Tree never hurt anyone.Wish I could’ve listened in on the conversation!! Their smiles speak more than words. WELCOME to BUFFALO and Bills Country Rex Ryan. The Kelly Family is cheering you on!” wrote Kelly’s wife.
Kelly echoed his wife’s sentiments.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what he does on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly continued in his statement. “I’m also excited about Rex Ryan’s determination to bring winning football back to the RALPH, to the amazing Bills fans and to the great city and people of Buffalo! GO BILLS!”
From the Big Tree Inn Ryan headed to First Niagara Center to take in the Buffalo Sabres hosting the Detroit Red Wings. The new Bills coach, no stranger to taking in an NHL game, was joined by four assistants from his New York Jets staff (secondary coach Tim McDonald, defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, linebackers coach Bobby April III and offensive assistant Tony Sparano Jr.) who it is assumed will join Ryan’s staff in Buffalo.
Here is Ryan — regaled in Sabres gear — and a few of his assistants taking in the game from a luxury suite, presumably on the dime of Bills owner Terry Pegula, who also happens to own the Sabres as well.
Bills coach Rex Ryan watches the 3rd period of the Sabres & Wings game from a suite. @TheBuffaloNews @BNHarrington pic.twitter.com/cwjVfcGG7m
— Harry Scull Jr (@hsjrphoto) January 14, 2015
Ryan is expected to be formally introduced by the Bills at a press conference Wednesday. All told, the new Bills head coach enjoyed a whirlwind day in his new stomping grounds. It may have started off awkwardly with a bizarre-looking pizza (top) the team presented him earlier in the day and may have ended somewhat disappointingly, what with the Sabres losing to the Red Wings by a score of 3-2, but everything in between was all good.
After all, hanging out and having a beer with none other than Jim Kelly had to be a thrill, not to mention a great way for Ryan to ingratiate himself to the Buffalo community. If you have Jim Kelly on your side, you’re off to a phenomenal start in Buffalo.