Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan was surprised by the death of his father, former NFL coach Buddy Ryan, on Tuesday morning and drove eight hours from Orchard Park, New York to Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, after learning of his passing.
"It was a surprise in the fact that we thought he was doing a lot better," Rex told TheMMQB.com. "But he had faced everything. He had just been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease; all those bouts of cancer he has had; numerous strokes; congestive heart failure. He actually beat encephalitis before. He eventually just couldn't take it -- I guess, with all that stuff piling up, it just got him.
"And you know what, the one thing that is amazing is, he couldn't hear. He could barely talk at the end. His teeth were falling out from all the radiation. He broke his back like three different times -- and he never complained one time. Not one time. He was one tough son of a gun."
Funeral services for Buddy Ryan, who was 85, are scheduled for Friday in Lawrenceburg. The longtime NFL coach, best known for coordinating the 1985 Chicago Bears' defense, lived on a ranch in Shelbyville, Kentucky, at the time of his death.
According to The MMQB, Rex Ryan "lobbied internally" for the Bills to draft Reggie Ragland this past April because the Alabama linebacker brought more physicality to Buffalo's defense and fit the mold of how Buddy Ryan's teams would have played.
"When Dad looked at football players, he would take them in his own image," Rex Ryan said. "That's what he grew up around; that's what he was when he was a master sergeant in the Korean War. That's what I took, and that's what I want on my football team."
The Bills passed on Ragland with the No. 19 overall pick, instead selecting Clemson outside linebacker Shaq Lawson. The Bills then traded up in the second round, from No. 49 to No. 41, to choose Ragland.