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Letter: Pro football players need to be ‘bullies’ on the field

Pro football players need to be ‘bullies’ on the field

Two recent letters in this space have admonished new Bills coach Rex Ryan for vowing to “build a bully” during his introductory press conference. Without question, bullying is a major problem in our society – particularly in schools and on social media. However, the letter writers’ harsh criticism of Ryan is absurd because it takes out of context the attitude that he wants to instill in his players and fails to distinguish acceptable behavior in the real world with the smash-mouth mentality typically found in championship football teams.

Being tough, physical and dictating the style of play upon one’s opponents is critical to success on the field. It is why Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain defense dominated the 1970s and how Seattle throttled Denver in last year’s Super Bowl. Ryan’s father, Buddy, designed one of the most feared and effective defenses in NFL history with the 1985 Chicago Bears. But what happens on the gridiron does not apply to life off it. Some of the toughest, meanest football players are kind, gentle and generous in contributing their time and wealth with various charities off the field.

Simply put, being a bully during a game by physically manhandling your opponent at the line of scrimmage or by intimidating quarterbacks or wide receivers with ferocious hits is synonymous with winning football games. Ryan knows this as well as anyone and genuinely believes that this is the best way to return the Bills to the playoffs and become a Super Bowl contender. If one is offended by Ryan’s use of words or the swaggering, aggressive style of play he wants from his players, then don’t watch the Bills or the NFL. There are other sports more to your liking such as golf, tennis and ice dancing. As for myself, I can’t wait for next season.

Peter McNeela