Buddy Ryan dies at 82

Alex Butler
Buddy Ryan. (Instagram/New York Jets)

CHICAGO, June 28 (UPI) -- An NFL defensive mastermind, known best as the architect of the 1985 Chicago Bears, died at 82 years old Tuesday.

Buddy Ryan coached in the NFL for 28 seasons, but was mostly known for creating arguably the greatest defense of all time. He was first on the staff of the Super Bowl champion New York Jets in 1968, but was carried off of the field after the 1985 Bears captured Super Bowl XX under his '46 defense.'


Ryan's agent, James Solano, confirmed his death on Tuesday. He is the father of Buffalo Bills coaches Rex and Rob Ryan. Ryan is also survived by son Jim and six grandchildren. Ryan's wife Joanie died in 2013 from Alzheimer's disease.

"Terry and Kim Pegula and the Buffalo Bills organization want to express their deepest sympathies and condolences to Rex, Rob and the entire Ryan family on the passing of their dad, Buddy Ryan," the Buffalo Bills said in a statement. "Buddy was a legend in our league in so many ways. His defenses were innovative and he was a master at putting his talented and tough players in a position to succeed. He was a real game changer and much of his philosophies and defensive tactics are still utilized effectively by teams today. Buddy's influence will be carried on by defensive coaches for generations to come, but none more so than by Rex and Rob. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the Ryan family today."


Ryan was born on Feb. 17, 1934 in Frederick, Oklahoma. He played for Oklahoma A&M before serving in the Korean War.

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"I knew buddy wasn't doing really well," 1985 Bears coach Mike Ditka told ESPN. "I saw him maybe about a year ago. It's sad. it's always sad when a friend passes. Buddy was such an integral part of the Chicago Bears and the '85 Bears, it was unbelievable. There is no way that we win anything without that defense, without his coaching, and I think everybody understands that. We had a great offensive line, we had the great Walter Payton, we had Jim McMahon and great wide receivers, but we won because of our defense. We can never forget that. That's just the way it was."


That 1985 Bears defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL in points allowed, yards allowed, rush yards allowed, first downs allowed, rush touchdowns allowed, interceptions, and takeaways.

He held a 55-55-1 record as a head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1986 to 1990 and Arizona Cardinals in 1994 and 1995. Ryan gained even more notoriety when he was serving as defensive coordinator for the Houston Oilers in 1993 and he punched offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride on live television.

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