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. Bryan also is survived by his wife, Shelby, and another daughter, Kristin. Bryan signed with OU out of Coweta in 1980 and started as a sophomore. He was a three-time All-Big Eight pick, a two-time consensus All-American and the Sooners’ record-holder for career tackles by a lineman, with 365. Bryan was picked ninth overall in the 1984 NFL Draft and played with the Falcons through 1993, finishing with 29 pro sacks. In an interview with The Oklahoman last summer, Bryan said he weighed about 325 pounds and was 75 pounds overweight. Bryan ranched and farmed more than 1,000 acres outside Coweta. "I’ve tried to lose weight, but I like to eat so much, it’s hard to do,” Bryan said. "When you’re farming, you don’t eat that much during the day, but from the time you get home until you go to bed, you eat.” Switzer drove with his longtime assistant, Merv Johnson, to Coweta on Sunday after hearing the news. Bryan said last summer that "probably the biggest thing I got out of OU was to get to know Barry Switzer. We became pretty good friends.”
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