Rex Ryan, the New York Jets' loquacious rookie coach, said his biggest battle in his life was to overcome the effects of dyslexia as a child.

"It was really frustrating," Ryan said. "So much of school, you have to write, but I just struggled. I couldn't help it."

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that affects people's abilities to read, spell, write, and pronounce words.

The International Dyslexia Association says that perhaps as much as 15 percent to 20 percent of the population has symptoms of dyslexia.

Despite the struggles, Ryan earned a master's degree in physical education from Eastern Kentucky.

Ryan, 46, knew something wasn't quite right while he was growing up, but his dyslexia was diagnosed just a few years ago, when his oldest son, Payton, was tested for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"They gave me a test, too, and there were like 100 words, not real words, but letters just thrown out there," Ryan said. "It might've taken me, I don't know, maybe 15 minutes to read it out. They brought in my youngest son, who was maybe 10 or 12 at that time, and he read it in like a minute.

"The further we went along with it, the more I realized, 'Man, oh, man. I can see where I definitely had it.' "

Steelers. Offensive tackle Max Starks has signed a four-year contract that will keep him with Pittsburgh through the 2012 season.

The starting left tackle was designated as the Steelers' franchise player on Feb. 20 and he initially accepted a 2009 salary of $8.45 million.

The new contract is expected to pay him a signing bonus of slightly more than that amount but reduce his annual pay, creating salary-cap room.

Noteworthy. Fernando Bryant, a 31-year-old cornerback and former first-round draft pick, is retiring. He played 10 NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, and the Steelers.