Ex-Sooner, NFL star Rick Bryan dies at 47

Berry Tramel Modified: July 27, 2009 at 8:52 am •  Published: July 27, 2009
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Rick Bryan, a "championship-type player” on non-championship Oklahoma football teams, died Saturday night in his Coweta home. He was 47.

Bryan, a nine-year NFL standout with the Atlanta Falcons, suffered from congestive heart failure, said his OU coach, Barry Switzer, and family members told the Tulsa World that Bryan died of a heart attack.

"He was a championship-type player that didn’t get to play on teams that could beat Texas or Nebraska,” Switzer said. Bryan started three years, 1981-83, and the Sooners suffered four defeats in each of those seasons.

But he was one of the greatest defensive tackles in OU history, making all-American in 1982 and 1983.

"As good a player as you could ever hope for,” Switzer said. "Tremendous leader on the field.

"Practiced the game the way you wanted it practiced. Played the game you wanted it played. Other than that, never said a word.

"A special, special player. Players tremendously respected him.”

Bryan’s funeral is set for 10 a.m. Thursday in the Coweta High School gym.

Two of Bryan’s brothers, Mitch and Steve, also played at OU. Steve was a starting defensive tackle on OU’s 1985 national championship team. Bryan’s son, Mike, is a linebacker at the University of Tulsa, and Bryan’s daughter, Jenni, is a standout basketball player at Coweta High School.

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