1:29pm: Rex Ryan has issued a statement on the passing of his father:
“On behalf of the entire Ryan family, we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their sympathies, prayers and warm thoughts with the passing of my dad. He was many things to many people–outstanding coach, mentor, fierce competitor, father figure, faithful friend and the list goes on. But to me and my brothers Rob and Jim, he was so much more. He was everything you want in a dad–tough when he had to be, compassionate when you didn’t necessarily expect it, and a loving teacher and confidant who cherished his family. He truly was our hero.
“For Rob and me, we’ve had the great fortune of sharing the coaching profession that he was so proud of and cherished so much. There is no way we can possibly begin to measure how much football we have learned from him over the years and we are forever thankful to him for instilling within us his unwavering love for the game of football.
“While today is a tough day for all of us in the Ryan family, we are consoled in knowing how much dad was loved by so many and the love he gave back in return. Though we will miss him dearly, we take comfort in knowing that his memory will live on through all of us.”
8:37am: Former NFL coach and defensive guru James “Buddy” Ryan has died at the age of 85, his agent, James Solano, told NFL.com’s Conor Orr. The news has since been confirmed by the Eagles.
Ryan, the father of Bills head coach Rex Ryan and assistant head coach Rob Ryan, was battling cancer in recent years. Ryan was outspoken and bold and, like his sons, a proponent of aggressive defense. Ryan served as the defensive coordinator for the famed 1985 Bears and spearheaded some of the Vikings’ best defenses in the 1970s. Ryan won two Super Bowl rings over the course of his 35-year career as an NFL coach and also served as a head coach for the Eagles and Cardinals, compiling a 55-55-1 record in his seven seasons at the helm.
“Without Buddy Ryan … I’m just a guy,” legendary Bears linebacker Mike Singletary said in an ESPN documentary about the 1985 Bears (transcript via Orr). “He’s someone that you meet, and you think he’s the toughest, meanest guy that you’ll ever meet. But he loves you. He just doesn’t know how to express it. But you know it when he looks at you.”
Ryan was the pioneer of the 46 defense, a scheme that was wildly effective and changed the way defense was played in professional football. Of course, when you’re bold and successful, you’re not always going to be well-received everywhere you go.
“In Chicago they say, ‘Coach Ryan, so good to see you!'” Ryan once said (via the Daily News). “In Philadelphia, they say, ‘Hey, mother f—er, what are you doing here?”
Overall, however, Ryan was a beloved figure in the NFL and we here at Pro Football Rumors would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to his family during this difficult time.