The football world woke up to some sad news on Tuesday morning.
Former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan has passed away at the age of 82. Ryan was the architect to the historic ’46’ defense that the Bears used to dominate opponents during the 1985 season.
The team went 15-1 and defeated the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX.
BREAKING: Longtime NFL coach Buddy Ryan has died. He was 82. pic.twitter.com/MwrAh7HStz
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 28, 2016
Ryan spent 26 seasons coaching in the NFL, getting his start as a defensive coordinator with the New York Jets. The Bears hired Ryan in 1978 as he began to construct the 46 defense.
In 1982, defensive players wrote a letter to founder and owner George Halas lobbying for him to keep Ryan on staff after head coach Neill Armstrong was fired. Halas listened and kept Ryan on Mike Ditka’s staff as a defensive coordinator.
Ryan left for to take the head coaching job in Philadelphia in 1986. He later went on to coach in Houston and Arizona.
During ESPN’s 30-for-30 special on the 1985 Bears, Ryan wrote a letter to his former players as they cried while reading it.
The letter reads:
To my guys,
In 1981, many of you signed a letter to George Halas that saved my job. Now I’m writing a letter to all of you to say thanks. I wish I could be there to say it in person, but this will have to do.
Thank you to the Super Bowl champion 1985 Chicago Bears, the greatest team in NFL history. You gave me the best memories of my coaching life.
I’ll love every one of you until the day I die. I told you this a long time ago, and it’s still true.
You guys will always be my heroes.
— Coach Buddy Ryan
Ryan’s sons, Rob and Rex, are currently coaching for the Buffalo Bills.