EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings are passing along condolences, thoughts and prayers to the family of James David "Buddy" Ryan, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 82.
Ryan coached Vikings defensive linemen from 1976-77 on Hall of Fame Head Coach Bud Grant's staff before becoming Bears defensive coordinator (1978-85) where he perfected the 46 defense and helped win Super Bowl XX with another epic defense.
The 1976 Vikings won the NFC Championship with a 24-13 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the final playoff game at Metropolitan Stadium to earn a trip to Super Bowl XI. That team outscored opponents 305 to 176.
The 1977 squad won the NFC Central for a fifth-straight year and made it to the NFC Championship game.
Jerry Burns, former Vikings offensive coordinator (1968-85) and head coach (1986-91) fondly recalled time spent with Ryan.
"Buddy was an excellent defensive coach and had a very nice family," Burns said. "My family was very close with his when he coached with the Vikings, and he was a good friend. We sat together on road trips and talked a lot about golf, family and things off the football field. It's very disappointing to hear he passed; we were very close in those days."
Ryan was head coach of the Eagles from 1986-90 and the Cardinals from 1994-95, totaling a 55-55-1 mark in regular-season games.
Prior to coaching, Ryan served in the U.S. Army. His first college coaching job was with the Buffalo Bulls (1961-65), in the city where his sons, Rex and Rob, now coach the NFL's Bills.
Ryan also coached defensive line for the New York Jets from 1968-75, helping the club shock the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.