Buddy Ryan, Chicago Bears
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Buddy Ryan Dead at 82

Both the football and sports world collectively are mourning the loss of a legend today, following news that former NFL coach and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan has passed away early this morning.

Ryan spent the better part of thirty years in the league, but will be best remembered as the defensive coordinator of the 1985 Chicago Bears, considered by many to be the greatest single-season defensive team performance in league history, culminating in a season that yielded the storied franchise its only Super Bowl championship.

Never a man to show softness either through his players or his own actions, Ryan was also infamously involved in the “Bounty Bowl” game as head coach of the Eagles. In a 1989 clash – in the truest sense of the word – against the division rival Cowboys, Dallas kicker Luis Zendejas and quarterback Troy Aikman left the field with injuries that head coach Jimmy Johnson alleged Ryan orchestrated amongst his defensive players.

Several years later, Ryan got into a sideline altercation with his own offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. Ryan expressed displeasure at his team’s ineffective dink-and-dunk offense in a physical way, but archive footage later revealed Ryan’s wild swing fractionally missed Gilbride’s jaw.

But despite – or, perhaps, because of – his violent passion for football, Ryan’s players loved to play for him. The recently produced ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, The ’85 Bears, strongly implied that while Mike Ditka was the head coach, Ryan called the real shots in Chicago.

All of his stars expressed a deep admiration for Ryan both at the time and well into his post-retirement phase. Watching hardman linebacker Mike Singletary tearfully read a note from Ryan, and repeatedly visit him on his farm in Ryan’s waning years, marked a truly deep and personal relationship that the coach shared with all his players.

Ryan is survived by his sons Rex and Rob Ryan, the head and assistant coaches of the Buffalo Bills respectively. Buddy Ryan was 82.

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