Many of his friends don't know why he started growing it in the first place. When his daughter, Dimitra, was in elementary school, one of her classmates was diagnosed with cancer and lost her hair while undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Dimitra told Rob that the girl wore a wig donated by the nonprofit organization Locks of Love. Then Jim Ryan's son, James, was diagnosed with cancer at 14 and also underwent chemo. Rob grows out his hair every year, cuts it off, donates it to Locks of Love and starts again.
These are the Ryan brothers: big mouths, big bellies, big hearts. After the Cowboys lost on Sunday night and Rob fell to 0--4 against Rex in the NFL, he walked out of the locker room in his rumpled travel suit. Rex, Buddy and Jim were waiting for him in the hallway. They all hugged him twice.
James, now cancer-free, could not be in New Jersey for the reunion. He just started his freshman year at Miami (Ohio), already volunteering for the hockey team, offering to videotape practice and break down film. He sees the ice the way his uncles see the field, every player with just one glimpse. Miami is nicknamed the Cradle of Coaches, springboard of Weeb Ewbank and Paul Brown, Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, Sid Gillman and Ara Parseghian. James may never win a Stanley Cup, but Uncle Rob says he's going to be a sweet live ass coach. That much is guaranteed.