Longtime NFL Coach Buddy Ryan Dies at 85 | NECN
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Longtime NFL Coach Buddy Ryan Dies at 85

James David "Buddy" Ryan spent 35 years as an NFL coach

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    Longtime NFL head coach and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan dies of cancer at the age of 82 Tuesday morning, according to sources. (Published Tuesday, June 28, 2016)

    Longtime NFL head coach and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan died of cancer at the age of 85 Tuesday morning, according to NFL.com.

    During his 35-year career, James David "Buddy" Ryan was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals and the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and Houston Oilers.

    After playing college football at Oklahoma A&M University, Ryan accepted his first coaching job at Gainesville High School in Texas. He also spent one year as athletic director at a high school in Marshall, Texas.

    From 1961 to 1965, Ryan was a defensive line coach for the University of Buffalo before moving on to the New York Jets, where he won his first Super Bowl ring.

    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Ryan kept the same position for two years with the Minnesota Vikings, where his "Purple People Eaters" terrorized opposing quarterbacks.

    The Chicago Bears named Ryan defensive coordinator in 1978. After a few years in Chicago, Ryan perfected the "46 Defense," which carried the Bears to a Super Bowl win following the 1985 season. That Bears defense is widely considered to be the greatest in NFL history.

    Ryan's success with the Bears turned into a head coaching opportunity with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1986. He was fired after going 43-38-1 in five seasons, including an 0-3 playoff record.

    The Houston Oilers brought Ryan on as defensive coordinator in 1993. He only lasted one year there, though, and is most famous for punching his team's offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride on the sideline during a game.

    Ryan's final NFL job was to serve as head coach for the Arizona Cardinals, where he amassed a 12-20 record in two seasons.

    Ryan's twin sons Rex and Rob, the head coach and assistant head coach of the Buffalo Bills, respectively, also have spent decades coaching in the NFL.