During his Hall of Fame career, defensive tackle Dan Hampton interacted with all kinds of ballboys.
‘‘Some are lazy, some are punk,’’ Hampton said Wednesday. ‘‘But Rex and Rob were hoots.’’
Added former Bears lineman Steve McMichael: ‘‘They were great kids, they were great ballboys.’’
The Ryan twins were hard to miss at Bears training camps in the early 1980s, when their father, Buddy, was overseeing one of the league’s best defenses. Hampton recalled the energy and passion of the boys.
‘‘You say ‘water,’ and they’d run and get it and bring it back,’’ Hampton said. ‘‘They wanted to be in the loop, and wanted to be guys that you not only liked but appreciated.
‘‘But then they’re on the sideline, spraying each other with water.’’
Hampton said his gruff coach often lamented that his ‘‘knuckleheads’’ were ‘‘driving him crazy.’’
‘‘They were very impetuous,’’ Hampton said.
The Ryan twins are following in their father’s footsteps, asserting themselves as two of the best defensive minds in the NFL.
Rex parlayed a successful run as the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator into the head-coaching job with the New York Jets, while Rob is the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.
When the Jets and Browns played in November, Rex dressed up as his brother Rob, replete with a wig.
But Rex has endured his share of controversy, the latest involving foot-fetish videos, posted by the website Deadspin, that appear to include him and his wife, Michelle.
‘‘It’s a personal matter, and I’m really not going to discuss it,’’ Rex said in a conference call with Chicago reporters Wednesday.
Hampton said the players were amused by the boys’ antics, with Buddy begrudging that he once found beer cans in their dorm room at training camp.
Rex didn’t mention any of that, instead talking about the on-field duties.
‘‘I remember painting sleds and goalposts and that kind of stuff,’’ Rex said. ‘‘You name it, we did it all, my brother and I.
‘‘It was just some amazing times. To watch that team, they were average, they were always tougher than nails, but then when they got the quarterback in place with Jim McMahon and all that, and to watch them win that Super Bowl — I was on the sideline for that game — what a great feeling.’’
Rex named his oldest son after Walter Payton.
Hampton said Buddy was asked why his sons weren’t at one of the training camps.
The boys had rolled a farm truck over.
‘‘Everyone is laughing, and Buddy is shaking his head,’’ Hampton said.
McMichael said he doesn’t remember Rex being so outgoing.
‘‘When a kid is around people they idolize, they tend to be withdrawn,’’ McMichael said. ‘‘They don’t jump in and try to be the center of attention.
‘‘But he is now.’’
Hampton said it was clear that both boys wanted to become coaches, like their father. After playing at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, they headed to Southwestern Oklahoma State University before starting their coaching careers — Rex at Eastern Kentucky and Rob at Western Kentucky.
‘‘From early on, they knew what they wanted to do,’’ Hampton said. ‘‘They saw their daddy as the grand conductor.’’
Hampton said he believes Rob has the chops to also become a head coach. He thinks the Ryan twins are good for the league.
‘‘They coach the right way,” Hampton said. “The NFL is the No Fun League. But not these guys. They still like to have fun.’’