While so much of the sporting world is focused on the passing of Pat Summitt (and rightfully so), it's important to remember that the football world also lost an icon Tuesday, with the death of Buddy Ryan.
To the current generation of football fans, Buddy is best known as the father of Rex Ryan, but for those who've been following the league longer, they remember him as something else: The architect of arguably the greatest defense of all-time, the '85 Bears. Ryan served as defensive coordinator of the club from 1978 until the end of that season, when he was hired as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. He went on to serve seven total years as a head coach, but still might be best known for his days in Chicago.
Simply put, Ryan is iconic, and on Tuesday, the man who worked so closely with him --- Mike Ditka --- spoke to ESPN radio about his impact.
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The two didn't always get along while working together, but it's clear there was a mutual respect that remains to this day for Ditka:
"The '85 Bears would not have been the '85 Bears without Buddy Ryan.
You know, they [the defense] did what Buddy wanted them to do on defense. And fortunately we were good enough where our offense would get to the point where they could compliment some of things they did on the defense. But there's no question, we won the Super Bowl because of our defense, you'd have to be a fool to say otherwise. We had great players on offense in Walter Payton and Willie Gault and some of the other guys we had, our offensive line, but our defense is why we won."
Those are strong words from Ditka, and while it's important to note that the Bears had success even after Ryan left, they never were able to duplicate their Super Bowl successes without him (ironically, in Ryan's first playoff game as a head coach, he lost to the Bears in 1988).
As for those contentious moments between Ryan and Ditka, well, the former Bears' head coach spoke about those too.
His answer, on whether the two ever argued, encapsulated their relationship better than any quote could.
"I never won any of 'em," Ditka said with a laugh. "But we got into 'em. That's just part of it."