Buddy Ryan, the former NFL head coach and defensive coordinator, who coached in the league for 26 seasons and won a Super Bowl with the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears, died Tuesday. He was 82.
Ryan began his NFL coaching career in 1968, serving on the defensive staff of the New York Jets until 1975. With the Jets, Ryan won his first Super Bowl in 1969, a game that saw the Jets upset the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
Following his stint with the Jets, Ryan headed to the Minnesota Vikings where he served again on the defensive staff, before being hired by the Bears as their defensive coordinator in 1978. It was with the Bears where Ryan would truly leave his mark in the NFL.
While with the Bears, Ryan created the 46 defense, an aggressive defense that focused on blitzing. The Bears’ defense of 1984 still holds the NFL record for the highest number of sacks in a season with 72. The 1985 Bears team won Super Bowl XX, a 46-10 drubbing of the New England Patriots. Ryan’s defense held the Patriots to seven rushing yards in that game and tallied seven sacks.
The best defense of all time?
The stats back it up.
— NFL (@NFL) June 28, 2016
One of the many players Ryan coached while with the Bears was former Florida Gator linebacker and College Football Hall of Famer Wilber Marshall.
Marshall said Ryan’s passing is tough on him. He said he remembers Ryan’s 46 defense as a complicated defense that gave opposing teams trouble.
In regards to the relationship between Ryan and Bears head coach Mike Ditka, Marshall said it was crazy, and Ryan would not let Ditka use his players for all the “crazy things” Ditka wanted to do.
After the Super Bowl victory, Ryan would leave the Bears to serve as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles for five seasons, where he accumulated a 43-35-1 record, before he was fired. After his firing, he became an NFL commentator for a few years, before returning to the NFL in 1993 as the defensive coordinator of the Houston Oilers for a single season.
He was hired as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 1994. After two seasons, in which he would tally a 12-20 record, Ryan was fired and finally decided to retire.
Following his death on Tuesday, many people in the football world mourned his passing.
— Ron Rivera (@RiverboatRonHC) June 28, 2016
This is how I will always remember my friend. pic.twitter.com/kfhhqDAnQu
— Mike Singletary (@CoachMSing) June 28, 2016
"The 85 Bears wouldn't have been the 85 Bears without Buddy Ryan. The players absolutely loved him."
– Mike Ditka pic.twitter.com/D8LOrKVYsw
— Mike & Mike (@MikeAndMike) June 28, 2016
Ryan is survived by three children, including his sons Rex and Rob, both of whom are NFL coaches; Buddy Ryan’s funeral is scheduled for Friday.