Legendary defensive genius Buddy Ryan, father of the 46 defense, passed away Tuesday morning at the age of 82. However, his legacy lives on through his sons Rob and Rex Ryan and the latter released a statement thanking people for support through this tough time.
“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,” Rex Ryan said in the released statement. “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.”
Buddy Ryan spent 35 years in the NFL, 28 as a defensive assistant and seven as a head coach. He found his most success as the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears from 1978-1985, where he innovated the 46 defense and helped the team dominate their way to their only Super Bowl championship in his final season with the team.
His twin sons broke into the league as a part of his defensive staff with the Arizona Cardinals in 1994 and 1995.