Hope this wasnt posted already!!


Nov 23, 2005
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Fontana, CA

Posted October 17, 2006

Punter Ryan spends bye week with dying father

By Rob Demovsky
[email protected]

Jon Ryan never asked for any special treatment.

The Green Bay Packers' first-year punter never asked coach Mike McCarthy whether he could cut out early last week and spend some extra time with his dying father.

He didn't have to.

Knowing the cancer found throughout Bob Ryan's body is terminal, McCarthy offered his punter the opportunity to take the whole week off during the Packers' bye and spend it at home in Regina, Saskatchewan.

It might have been the last week the 25-year-old will spend with his father.

"I was just going to take the same days off as the rest of the guys, but a couple of days before the St. Louis game, (McCarthy) told me to catch the first flight out of here," Ryan said. "He told me to get home and see him. He's been outstanding throughout all this."

Ryan returned to work on Monday.

On the practice field, he looked much the same as he has since he arrived in Green Bay in the offseason as a free-agent from the Canadian Football League. He was booming punts inside the Don Hutson Center, showing off the leg strength that ranks him third in the NFL in gross average at 47.4 yards.

But in the locker room after practice, a somber Ryan was trying to deal with the notion that he might never again see his father.

"I think he's done just amazing with what he's going through mentally," said kicker Dave Rayner, whose locker is next to Ryan's. "I can't even imagine what he's going through, but he's doing it.

"From what I can see, football is a way to get him away from that and not focus or dwell on that. He said his dad wants him to be out here and do well, so that's really going to give him more fuel."

Ryan learned of his father's cancer in early August, when he was still anything but a lock to beat out B.J. Sander for the Packers' punting job.

Doctors at first thought it was bone marrow cancer because Bob Ryan's bones had become weak and brittle, and he broke a leg in early September. Then, doctors started to find tumors in his groin and hips.

On Oct. 7, the day before the Packers played their last game before the bye, Bob Ryan's doctors decided his cancer couldn't be treated.

When Ryan arrived last week at his father's bed in a Calgary hospital, his father was mulling his options. He could have most of his lower body amputated, hoping to fend off the cancer, which had spread to his lungs. Or he could go home and try to enjoy what time he has left.

"He chose to do that, so we took him home," Ryan said. "He said he wanted to live, not survive. So it's something that we're all trying to deal with, but it's tough.

"I guess as cancers go, it's one in a million. The specialist in Calgary said that if his case was the second case he'd ever seen, he'd be the North American expert because no one's ever seen it before. Radiation, chemotherapy, nothing will do anything to it. All they can do is try to go in there and cut things out."

Barring a miracle, Bob Ryan will never again see his son play in an NFL game in person. Crippled by his broken leg and weakness throughout his body, he has trouble getting from his bed to the couch.

Last Saturday, though, Jon took his father to a football game at nearby University of Regina, where Jon's younger brother, Steve, is a defensive back. It likely was the last time the Ryan family — as it is today — will attend a football game together.

"It was unbelievable," Jon said. "It was a day I'll never forget."

Nor will he forget the only time his father ever walked onto Lambeau Field. A lifelong Packers fan despite growing up in Canada, Bob Ryan came to town for the Packers' preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons.

"At that point, I didn't know the cancer was that bad. None of us did," Jon said. "But I knew it was pretty special to have him here. I'm so happy he was able to come to that game. He said when he came out of the tunnel and into the stadium, he had tears in his eyes."

Because his father is in no condition to travel and the rigors of the NFL schedule likely won't allow Ryan to return to Canada before season's end, Ryan may have spent his last moments with his father.

That's what made it so hard to get back on the plane and return to work as the Packers prepare for Sunday's game at Miami.

"They won't give us a timetable," Ryan said. "They said it could be a few months. He's a strong guy, and he's going to fight this for as long as he can."


Dec 30, 2005
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i can totally understand what he is going through & my heart goes out to him. one year ago on oct. 14th, my dad was told he had no further cancer treatment options. one year ago today, my dad finished harvesting for the last time. :(


Aug 26, 2006
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the unknown province
Nice post Hedder, I got a special interest in Ryan after watching him up here all last year. Kickers don't always get looked at as football players but Jon is old school top to bottom. He actually was a pretty good WR in college and is quit atheletic. Wish him the best as football is secondary in life even though to me it doesn't feel that way. lol


Mar 29, 2006
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Salisbury, NC
awesome that they were packer fans before he got to the nfl and then his son gets to play for them.

awesome that he got to see a game at lambeau.

and a great move by mike mccarthy to let him leave. maybe a no brainer to us...but it shows class and respect for the head coach to let him leave for a week.

good stuff