Buddy Ryan is known for bailing the Philadelphia Eagles out of a rough patch in the mid-1980s. After a disappointing three year tenure under Marion Campbell (going 17-29-1), the team decided to snatch Ryan away from the Chicago Bears, where he was defensive coordinator for arguably the greatest defense in NFL history (Chicago's 1985 squad) and fresh off of a Super Bowl victory.
During his five seasons in Philadelphia, Ryan coached Eagles legends such as Randall Cunningham, Reggie White, and Andre Waters. He also put together one of the NFL's greatest defenses by adding Seth Joyner, Clyde Simmons, Jerome Brown, and Eric Allen to the mix. Later on, he brought in weapons for Cunningham, such as Cris Carter, Fred Barnett, and tight end Keith Jackson. The team benefited from these additions as they made the playoffs from 1988-1990.
Eagles fans will always remember that Ryan loved to stir up bulletin board material during Cowboys week. The first game that will come to mind was the 1987 game against the Cowboys when Ryan ran up the score on Tom Landry in the closing seconds against Dallas. He is also considered responsible for the 1989 Bounty Bowl on Thanksgiving Day in Texas Stadium, according to Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, who instantly became one of his biggest enemies. Ryan went 43-35-1 in five seasons in Philadelphia before being fired after going 0-3 in his playoff games.
Off of the field, Ryan was known for being a Kentucky horse farmer with two sons that were big-name coaches in the NFL: Rex, who coached the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills, and Rob, who has been a big name defensive coordinator around the league. In the summer of 2016, Ryan passed away at the age of 85 after a lengthy illness. In previous years Ryan had battled cancer and suffered a major stroke. Yesterday was Ryan's birthday, and he would have turned 89.
I was not born yet when Buddy served as the Birds head coach, and I watch the segment about him on my complete history of the Eagles over and over because of the team he built. The Eagles went through a dark period after Dick Vermil stepped away from coaching, and Buddy Ryan brought the Birds back. Personally, I think there should be a debate on if he should be in the Hall of Fame in Canton for his total accomplishments as a coordinator and head coach in the NFL.