Ryan wears passion on more than a sleeve

I fully understand why fans of opposing teams might dislike New York Jets coach Rex Ryan.

He's cocky. He doesn't back down even when his team isn't playing well. He's in your face. And he immediately made the AFC East more competitive.

But it's difficult to begrudge a guy who has so much fun.

In so many ways, he's just a fanboy who happens to run an NFL club. Even Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, who got into a verbal joust with Ryan last summer, has confessed an affection for the way Ryan goes about his business.

ESPNNewYork.com brings us another example of Ryan's childlike giddiness with sports. Turns out, Ryan owns an extensive throwback jersey collection he was proud enough to share with reporter Rich Cimini.

Ryan wears a throwback -- size 60 or 64 -- almost every day he's not working.

"I want to be comfortable, and I don't take myself too seriously," Ryan told Cimini. "I have a true love and a true passion for sports. That's who I am. I'm more comfortable at a ballgame than I would be at an opera or watching a show. I love watching games."

Ryan started collecting old-school jerseys of the big four sports when he was on the Baltimore Ravens' staff. He has a white Joe Namath jersey, a replica of the one worn in Super Bowl III, when Ryan's father, Buddy, won a ring as a Jets assistant.

When Rex Ryan threw out the first pitch at a recent New York Mets game, he wore his own Nolan Ryan jersey on the mound. Remember that infamous clip of Ryan showing off his prodigious gut at a Carolina Hurricanes game when the home club asked him to put on one of their jerseys? He'd been wearing a Dave Schultz Philadelphia Flyers sweater.

Ryan goes outside of the wardrobe box when it comes to his cache.

He owns a few famous movie jerseys, including Chico's Bail Bonds ("Bad News Bears"), the Mean Machine ("The Longest Yard") and a Chicago Blackhawks sweater with Griswold stitched on the back ("National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation").