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Buddy's Boys
By Jeff Ausiello
Special to

The show takes an in-depth look at the defensive scheme, "the 46", which revolutionized defensive football in the NFL and it's architect, Buddy Ryan. We illustrate the evolution of the relationship between the defensive players and coach Ryan as the Bears go from a mediocre defense in the late -70's to arguably the greatest unit in NFL history by the mid-80's. The players initial reactions to Ryan's boot camp mentality and tactics are that of skepticism and hate. But as the Bears players begin to understand the complexities of Ryan's schemes, they not only learn to appreciate Ryan's genius but also form a unique bond with him.

"The 46" defensive scheme revolutionized defensive football in the NFL and was orchestrated by Buddy Ryan, will be profiled on Wednesday, October 19 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

When Head Coach Neil Armstrong is fired in 1982, the players write a letter to owner George Halas, imploring him to retain their defensive leader, Coach Ryan. The result is a new contract for Ryan and absolute control of his defense. The defensive players' love for Ryan continues to grow as the Bears become the best defense in football and Ryan becomes the most powerful assistant in the game, often ignoring the commands of head coach Mike Ditka. By the time the Bears reach their first Super Bowl in January of 1986 the Ryan-Ditka relationship is beyond repair. When Ryan tells his players the night before the Super Bowl that he is leaving, they vow, amidst tears that they will win this game for him. In a symbolic gesture, a triumphant Ryan is carried off the field with Ditka after the Bears 46-10 demolition of New England.

Nine of the eleven defensive starters appear in the show including All-Pros, Mike Singletery, Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, Steve McMichael, Otis Wilson, Gary Fencik and Dave Duerson and media sensation William Perry. Both Buddy Ryan and Mike Ditka are in the show as well.

Safety Doug Plank, #46, is also in the show. The defense is named after his number because in the late 1970's when Ryan first used the defense in third down situations, it was Plank who moved from his safety position to a blitzing linebacker.

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