LOS ANGELES: James “Buddy” Ryan, the father of twin brothers Rex and Rob and mastermind of the Chicago Bears’ famed “46 defense,” died Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) at the age of 82.
Ryan’s health had deteriorated in recent years as he battled cancer. He attended a Buffalo game last season in a wheelchair to watch son Rex’s Bills.
Buddy Ryan got a taste of being a champion as defensive coordinator with the title-winning New York Jets in Super Bowl III and was credited with being the difference-maker when the Bears crushed the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.
He coached in the NFL, either as a head coach or an assistant for 35 years.
His greatest achievement came as an assistant with the Bears when he installed the “46 defense” designed to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
Winning the Super Bowl in 1985 made him prime head coaching material and the Philadelphia Eagles wasted no time in naming Ryan.
His success as an assistant coach didn’t translate as a head coach. Ryan compiled a 55-55-1 record in his five seasons with the Eagles and one year with the Arizona Cardinals.
His teams made the post-season three times, but never won a game.
Ryan’s volatile nature also led to a number of publicized dust-ups. When he was with the Houston Oilers he took a swing at fellow assistant coach, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, on the sidelines during a game because he was irked by Gilbride’s “chuck and duck” offense.
He also had to be separated from his head coach, Mike Ditka, at halftime in Miami of the Bears’ only loss in 1985.