Rob Ryan was wrapping up his third and final preseason with the New Orleans Saints last year when a federal worker received a strange tip on her voicemail about the team's colorful defensive coordinator: Someone who apparently had dialed the wrong number let her know that Ryan seemed like an easy target for an ambush.
"He don't got no security," said a garbled voice, according to a court document obtained by The New Orleans Advocate. "He's just a regular football coach. ... He ain't ... big ... like (rapper) Lil Wayne or nobody ... that got bodyguards everywhere."
The federal worker turned the 2-minute, 16-second voicemail over to local authorities, and they temporarily stationed police outside Ryan's Uptown home.
The only public mention so far of an alleged conspiracy to rob the football coach at gunpoint came in a broader indictment last month accusing eight young men of conspiring to stage a string of high-profile robberies at Uptown bars and restaurants last year.
One count in the proposed indictment originally said two of the alleged conspirators — Jockquaren "Jock" Van Norman and Larry "Alz" Quinn — also had made plans to hold up Ryan. Authorities last month did not say what evidence they had to support that allegation, and a grand jury ultimately declined to indict the pair on that charge.
But the court document obtained by The Advocate suggests police had concrete reasons to believe that Ryan could have ended up another victim of a crime spree that grabbed national attention and unsettled residents of some of the city's most affluent neighborhoods.
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Investigators probing the case were led to Van Norman and Quinn after a New Orleans-based employee of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management left her cellphone at work for the weekend and found later she had received 11 calls from the same local number on the afternoon of Aug. 30, 2015.
The woman had been living in New Orleans for only two weeks, so she found it strange that a local number she didn't recognize had called her so many times and even left a voicemail.
When she listened to the message, she heard someone discussing what vaguely sounded like a plan to attack Ryan, now 53.
"He ain't like Lil Wayne," the voice said, according to the document. "He just a ... football coach. ... Defensive coordinator of the Saints. He don't have no bodyguards ... in front his house."
Worried for Ryan's safety, the New Orleans Police Department got in touch with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, which patrols near the Saints training facility in Metairie, and both agencies agreed to alert Ryan and the Saints about the potential threat.
Police also contacted AT&T and asked for the company's assistance in locating the phone that left the voicemail, according to the document.
Days later, a police car was spotted parked outside Ryan's house. When contacted by a reporter at the time, police said they had reason to believe Ryan could be in danger and that they were providing security. But they asked the media not to release those details to avoid compromising an ongoing investigation.
Eventually, police apparently linked Van Norman, now 20, and Quinn, 22, with the number that left the phone message.
Records show that police jailed Van Norman on Nov. 13, three days before Ryan was fired by the Saints following a 33-point loss in Washington. Van Norman was booked on a variety of counts, including armed robbery, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, conspiracy to commit murder and serving as an accessory to murder.
Meanwhile, records show Quinn was jailed Aug. 23 on a variety of counts as well, including armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and attempted murder.
Each awaits trial on the charges spelled out in last month's indictment.
Attempts Tuesday to reach Ryan, now an assistant coach with the Buffalo Bills, were unsuccessful.
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