Kick in the shins
Jon Ryan
Jon Ryan

Posted Oct 18, 2006

Punter may have seen ailing father for last time during bye week

Get-off and hang times are trivial to what punter Jon Ryan must endure on a personal front in the coming days, if not weeks and months.

The first-year pro will try to concentrate on his kicking duties the last 11 weeks of the season without knowing how much more time his father, Bob Ryan, has to live.

Jon Ryan returned to Green Bay on Saturday night after spending nearly the entire bye week with his family in his native Canada. Bob, 53, has terminal cancer, and the outlook isn't good.

"It was very difficult (leaving) because they don't know how much time he has left," Jon said after practice Monday. "It could be a couple weeks. It could be possibly a year or two. It's kind of like goodbye."

Cancerous tumors were found in Bob's groin and hips after he had taken a fall and hurt his leg during the summer. The cancer has spread to his lungs.

Bob was given the option to have his body amputated from the waist down but decided against it.

"He said cutting off half his body just wasn't any way to live. He said he wanted to live, not survive," Jon said. "So, we took him home, and he's just trying to make the best of the time that he's got left."

Jon, 24, is coping as best as he can.

Unsolicited, head coach Mike McCarthy excused Ryan from remaining in Green Bay for three days of practices during the bye week and urged him to be with his ailing dad at the family home in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Bob grew up a fan of the Packers and attended his first - and perhaps only - game at Lambeau Field to see Jon kick Aug. 19 against Atlanta in the preseason.

Jon has a younger brother who plays college football in Regina. The family, Bob included, attended a game there Saturday.

"He tells me how proud he is of me," said Jon, who set a Canadian Football League record last year with a gross average of 50.6 yards. "And, lately, sometimes when times have been tough, it's been a bit of an escape to watch me play football and watch my brother play football. Football's kind of a medicine for my family right now, so I feel like I'm making him proud right now."

The strong-legged Ryan is third in the league with a gross average of 47.4 yards, but he's second from the bottom with a net average of 34.6.

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