Bijani: DeMeco Ryans has a chance to build unique legacy in Houston


It’s a new beginning in Houston, and while the fan base has been starved of wins and pride in the organization in recent years, DeMeco Ryans can not only restore confidence in the franchise, but he can also set a new standard.

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Thursday evening, the former Texans linebacker and 13-year NFL veteran sat before a packed team auditorium, humbled.

Ryans, 38, is fulfilling a dream to become a head coach in the NFL for the team that gave him his first opportunity to make a mark in the league in 2006 as a second-round draft selection.

To do it in the city where he started his family, is special.

“It's a surreal moment for me, and I'm thankful to God that,” Ryans said. “He has just paved the way for me through everything that I've been through in life and for my paths to end up back here in my home, in H-Town where it all started. It's truly a blessing.”

As surreal of a moment as it was for Ryans during Thursday evening’s introductory press conference, having his entire family sitting in front of him along with more than two-dozen former teammates and about ten current players on the roster not far behind, Ryans and general manager Nick Caserio have already begun the process to build a strong foundation of top coaches.

There was plenty to take away from listening to Ryans' passion for coaching, teaching, and setting the best example to lead young men.

It’s that last part about about setting the best example to lead that comes naturally to Ryans, who says he couldn’t have done it without the sacrifices his mother made for him during his formative years.

“If you want it, you got to go work. You got to work hard. You got to work hard. Maybe there are some sacrifices you have to make in life as well to make sure that the others around you are better,” Ryans said. “That's what my mother taught me, and that's what goes into coaching.

“There are some sacrifices that I want to make because I want to instill all that I have into the young men that I'm able to lead. I want to give them everything to see them develop and grow and be the best men that they can be.”

With the newness of any job, lofty goals come with the territory. The objective did not fall on deaf ears Thursday night, Ryans has one thing in mind upon taking this job and that’s building a winner.

“We want to build this team with guys who have the character of J.J. Watt, who have that athletic ability, that dominance as a player,” Ryans said.

Getting back to those lofty goals.

It may sound far-fetched to expect a football team to embody the character traits of one of the greatest players of all time in Watt’s case, but Ryans himself may need to soon realize that his new team has a pretty great example to follow already.


When asked if any particular message he’d received since the announcement of his hire stood out, Ryans couldn’t name one.

“The theme is everybody is just -- they're so proud of me,” Ryans said. “For me to be in a position to make others proud, like, that means the world to me to make others feel proud.

“I just correlate to what do we want to do here for our team? We just want to make the city of Houston proud. That's what makes this special, right? That's everything about it. We know our fans here are hungry for a winner. They deserve a winner. The same messages that I've gotten of people telling me how proud they are of me, I want to reflect that in our team, and I want to instill that in our guys of how we go out there and play, how we practice, how we prepare. Man, we're expecting to make the city of H-Town proud.”

There may not be a much better example of an individual to try to model one’s work ethic, determination, passion, and overall skill from none other than JJ Watt.

Who would argue that?

However, the immediate impact that Ryans had on the building and fan base to boot, upon just simply walking in the door, has reinvigorated a fan base that has felt estranged from its football team.

With much to do between now and the start of a new season such as filling out a staff, preparing for the draft, and attacking free agency, Ryans and the Texans won’t have the weight of the world on their shoulders to win right away, but Ryans won’t be using that as an excuse.

The legacy he can begin to build is unmatched already.

It’s not often a player has the opportunity to return to the organization where his career began and lead a team.

However, it has happened once before in Houston.

Former Astros pitching phenom and longtime broadcaster Larry Dierker, who broke in with the Houston Astros as a 17 year old rookie in 1964, wound up managing the ball club in 1997.

That was special.

Dierker grew an already impressive resume as a player and broadcaster into a successful and beloved manager, winning three division championships during his five seasons as manager.

Ryans does have a long way to go before we concern ourselves with a discussion about legacy and things of that matter, but it is fun to think about.

He’s got the playing career down, as well as being an all-around helluva good dude and inspiring coach.

There’s no denying the promise that exists for this era of Texans football to be the beginning of something really special with Ryans at the helm.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports