Rex Ryan Jets Buddy Ryan Rob Ryan
(Bill Kostroun / AP)

Some of the finer points in New York Jets history have been family affairs. Jets X-Factor looks back on the team’s father-son pairings.

Geoff Magliocchetti

Jets X-Factor wishes a happy Father’s Day to all the green-clad dads in the metropolitan area and beyond.

In celebration, we look back on some of the rare father/son duos that have donned the green and white over the last six decades.

The Mackeys

Dee (1963-65) and Kyle (1989)

Unlike some of the other entries below, the Texas-based Mackeys both actually played for the New York Jets on the field.

Dee, a tight end, was originally chosen by Boston in the second round of the 1960 AFL Draft out of East Texas State (now Texas A&M-Commerce) but opted to remain with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers instead. He played the last three seasons (1963-65) of a five-year AFL career with the Jets, earning 731 yards and four touchdowns in that span.

Meanwhile, Kyle was one of four Jets quarterbacks to earn a start during a dreary 1989 season. He’d move onto another New York gridiron squad in the following year: the Arena Football League’s Albany Firebirds.

The Rodgers

Kacy and Kacy II (2018)

It’s not often that fathers get to coach their sons. Last season, then-Jets receivers coach Shawn Jefferson actually coached against his son Van when the Jets took on the Los Angeles Rams.

But the Rodgers family got to briefly experience it during the 2018 preseason when the elder defensive coordinator worked with his son of the same name. While the younger Rodgers, a former CFL cornerback, didn’t make the Jets’ final roster, the pair relished the summer they shared on One Jets Drive.

“I went from seeing him once, twice a year, to seeing him every day, and coaching him on the highest level of football,” coach Rodgers, now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line coach, said in a report from team writer Olivia Landis. “That’s really surreal in so many ways. As a father, you sit back, and it’s amazing to me because of his journey to get here.”

The Ryans

Buddy (1968-75) and Rex (2009-14)

Buddy Ryan‘s eventful NFL career began with the Jets in 1968, which saw him start an eight-year tenure as the team’s defensive line coach. Upon his NFL entry, Ryan, inspired by the way head coach Weeb Ewbank valued protecting Joe Namath, made it his goal to stifle as many quarterbacks as possible.

Teaming up with defensive coordinator Walt Michaels, Ryan’s blitz packages (granted tasty if not deadly names like “Cheeseburger” and “Taco Bell”) struck fear into the hearts of both AFL and NFL quarterbacks. The crowning achievement was Super Bowl 3 when the relentless New York pressure forced the Baltimore Colts into five turnovers en route to the famous 16-7 triumph.

Just over four decades later, Rex Ryan, Buddy’s son, duplicated the defensive dominance en route to a pair of AFC title game appearances as the Jets’ head coach. While Rex relied more on strategy, becoming notorious for his use of audibles and for deferring upon winning the coin toss, his focus on defense turned the Jets into contenders during the height of Tom Brady’s rule.

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The Williamses 

Gregg and Blake (2019-20)

The Williams boys have been a traveling father-son duo for over a decade, their familial collaboration beginning during the 2006 season in Washington. Their family circus descended upon New York for the last two seasons, with Gregg serving as the defensive coordinator and Blake working as his assistant.

Interestingly, Blake managed to outlast his father in New York, as he was temporarily kept on the staff after Gregg’s firing last December.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email:
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