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Rex Ryan on father’s passing: ‘This season means a hell of a lot to us’

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With both of them on the Buffalo Bills coaching staff, Rex Ryan and his twin brother Rob will have the comfort of leaning on each other this upcoming season as they mourn the passing of their father Buddy. And the Bills head coach made it clear he and Rob have a lot invested in the season, not only from a practical sense, but also as a way to honor the NFL icon’s memory.

Ryan was driving from Orchard Park, N.Y., to Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, Ky., on Tuesday upon learning of his dad’s death and spent some of the time speaking with Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com.

“This season means a hell of a lot to us,” Ryan said. “Our name, our legacy, means a hell of a lot. Our dad is recognized as being one of the great defensive coaches, probably arguably the best, in the history of the game. You can’t say he’s not in the top five, certainly. And we’ve been pretty successful through the years ourselves, but nothing like we want to be. We have won five Super Bowls as a family, but we want to win our sixth at some point. And I want to win it as a head coach, because that has never been done in our family. Obviously, it’s not like these teams are going to roll down for us. We have to earn everything we get, and we’re a long-ass way away from it. It’s going to take a ton of work. But I really like my team.”

Rob Ryan similarly shared his thoughts on restoring the Ryan family coaching name.

Rex Ryan added that by all accounts the belief was his father’s health was improving, despite being recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease on top of several bouts with cancer, a number of strokes and congestive heart failure.

“He eventually just couldn’t take it — I guess, with all that stuff piling up, it just got him,” Ryan said.

Ryan also added that as Buddy neared death, he couldn’t hear, could barely speak and that his teeth were falling out due to radiation treatments. But he never complained.

“He was one tough son of a gun,” Ryan said of his father.

Funeral services for Buddy Ryan will be held Friday in Lawrenceburg.