PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Buddy Ryan will always have a special spot in my career. When the book comes out, I might give him his own chapter. He earned that.
Weeks before we launched the 10:00 News in February of 1986, James David "Buddy" Ryan was hired to replace Marion Campbell as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Truth be told, he was hired to win games and transform a franchise that had fallen asleep. As Mike Quick told me this week, the Eagles had become an afterthought behind the Flyers, Phillies and 76ers. The NFL wasn't the colossal marketing machine it is today. Dick Vermeil was a distant memory and Marion Campbell was a disaster. 'CheatSheet' recently ranked Campbell as the 5th worst coach in NFL history. 17 wins in 3 years in Philadelphia will do that.
Buddy Ryan brought more than wins to Philadelphia. Heck, he never won a playoff game (failed 3 times.) No, Buddy Ryan brought adrenaline. He brought a pulse. He took the gloves off and attacked. And as a 23 year old journalist starting out, he brought me a perspective on doing my job. He kept you on your toes. You didn't know what was next, but you knew you better be there when he threw the next haymaker. To this day, I have never covered a coach with his candor.
But he was the same way with his players. They all knew where they stood with him, and vice versa. If Ryan criticized, critiqued or coddled, the players were all on the same page.
He taught you about the city. Play-by-play announcer Merrill Reese says he embodied the infamous 700 level fans at Veterans Stadium. He was their coach. He was Philadelphia's coach. And I learned about the passion of this city and what matters to you the fans thanks in large part to Buddy Ryan.
Was he intimidating? Absolutely. He would stare me down before an interview...ask up front what I wanted to know. I asked questions. He answered. Candidly. And the respect grew on both ends. I thank him for that.
I miss Buddy Ryan. I miss my "1st" coach. Missed him the day he left. But I'll always respect what he did for Philadelphia and what he taught me.
Come to think of it, Buddy might get 2 chapters.