It’s only Tuesday and the sports world has already lost two coaching legends this week.

Last night word broke that legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summit, who had been battling dementia, had passed away, and this morning the football world learned of the passing of the legendary Buddy Ryan. He was 82 years old.

Of course, Ryan is the father of Bills head coach Rex Ryan and Bills assistant head coach for defense Rob Ryan.

Buddy is perhaps best known for his time as the defensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears, where he coached from 1878-1985, helping to lead one of the best (and most feared) defensive units in NFL history to a Super Bowl title following the ’85 season. He is still regarded today as one of the best defensive minds the NFL has ever seen.

Buddy’s coaching career started in 1961 as the defensive line coach for the Buffalo Bulls, and in 1968 he broke into the NFL ranks as the Jets defensive line coach and never looked back. He spent the next twenty years in the NFL with the Vikings (DL), then the Bears (defensive coordinator) before landing his first head coaching job with the Eagles in 1986, which lasted until 1990. There he went 43-35 overall with three straigh trips to the playoffs.

From Philadelphia, he went on to become the defensive coordinator with the Houston Oilers for a season, and then in 1994-95 he took over the Arizona Cardinals as head coach for his last stop in the NFL, going 8-8 his first season, and 4-12 his final season.

One of Buddy’s biggest claims to fame was the vaunted 4-6 “Bear” front defense that wreaked havoc in the NFL with eight men in the box to stop the run. But it also did so much more than that. It was a defense that transformed football and one that gave many offensive coordinators nightmares.

“Some say the 46 defense is just an eight-man front. That’s like saying Marilyn Monroe’s just a girl,” Buddy famously stated at one point in his career.

Earlier this year, ESPN did a 30 for 30 on the ’85 Bears that turned into a mini-episode of Buddy and what he meant to his players. Below is a rather powerful clip from that episode.

Rest in peace Buddy. You have undoubtedly left a mark on the coaching profession and those you coached, and your sons and those players will continue to carry on your legacy.


Many people are weighing in with great tributes to Buddy, and I will compile some of them below to reflect on him, his career, and how he’s viewed in the coaching profession.