Architect of the 1986 Bears’ famed 46 defense and former Eagles/Cardinals head coach Buddy Ryan passed away Tuesday at the age of 85. Though remembered by many for his tumultuous relationships with Mike Ditka and Kevin Gilbride, one of Ryan’s more sensational moments came in the Eagles’ Thanksgiving ’89 visit to Dallas, in which Rex and Rob’s dad was accused of placing a bounty on the head of Cowboys K Luis Zendajas. From the Dallas Morning News’ Rainer Sabin :
On the opening kickoff of the second half, Lined up near the sideline, Philadelphia rookie linebacker Jessie Small raced past three Cowboys and blasted Luis Zendejas, Dallas’ 175-pound kicker who had been cut by the Eagles that season. Struck in the helmet as he tried to duck, Zendejas staggered off the field.
Afterward, in his news conference, Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson claimed Ryan had placed a $200 bounty on Zendejas and a $500 bounty on Dallas QB Troy Aikman. Zendejas told reporters Eagles special teams coach Al Roberts and Philadelphia punter John Teltschik warned him before the game he would be targeted. Once the Eagles put the finishing touches on their victory, Johnson wanted to confront Ryan and discuss the matter.
“I would have, but he wouldn’t stay on the field long enough,” Johnson said that day. “He got his fat rear end into the dressing room.”
Zendejas told reporters he taped a conversation he had with Roberts, the Eagles assistant coach, discussing the bounty. Roberts, in response, threatened to sue Zendejas if he were to be fired because of any potential fallout.
“If I can’t keep a job in this league for the next 15 years, then Luis is going to pay me,” Roberts said. “Get my point? Luis is going to pay. I’m going to own a Mexican restaurant, and I’m going to name it The Bounty.”