HOUSTON -- Jack Pardee, one of Bear Bryant's "Junction Boys" at Texas A&M who went on to become an All-Pro linebacker and an NFL coach, died Monday. He was 76.
In November, Pardee's family announced that he had cancer and had six to nine months to live. The family has established a memorial scholarship fund in Pardee's name at the University of Houston, where Pardee coached from 1987-89.
The 14th overall pick in the 1957 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Rams, he played for the team from 1957-64, sat out a year with melanoma, and played seven more seasons. He finished his playing career with the Washington Redskins in 1973 and coached the team from 1978-80.
"In his time both on the field and on the sideline, Jack Pardee will forever be a part of the Washington Redskins' legacy," owner Daniel Snyder said in a statement. "He will be remembered not just as a linebacker for the 1972 NFC Champions, nor as just the coach for our franchise. He will be remembered as someone whose spirit truly embodied the values that we associate with the burgundy and gold."
Before the NFL, Pardee coached in the World Football League. He was the Bears' head coach from 1975-77 and guided Chicago to its first playoff appearance since the early 1960s. Pardee moved to the Redskins in 1978, while the Bears made the postseason again in 1979.
"The Bears family was saddened to hear of Jack Pardee's passing," Bears chairman George McCaskey said in a statement. "Coach Pardee's time with us was only three seasons, but he made an impact by ending a 14-year playoff drought in 1977."
The Redskins fired Pardee after Washington went 6-10 in 1980. He served as San Diego's defensive coordinator for one season, then returned to Texas to coach the USFL's Houston Gamblers.
When the USFL disbanded in 1987, Pardee became the coach at the University of Houston and brought along the fast-paced "run-and-shoot" offense that worked well with the Gamblers. The NCAA levied severe sanctions on the program in 1988, the result of violations committed under previous coach Bill Yeoman. Houston was banned from playing in a bowl game for two years and banned from playing on television in the 1989 season.
But the Cougars led the nation in total offense (624.9 yards per game) and passing offense (511 yards per game) in 1989, and quarterback Andre Ware became the first black quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. Houston finished 9-2 and ranked No. 14 in the nation.
"When you talk about the great offenses in the history of college football, coach Pardee's run-and-shoot teams from the late 1980s must be considered near the top of that list," Houston coach Tony Levine said.
Pardee became the coach of the NFL's Houston Oilers in 1990, and led the team to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons. Current Tennessee coach Mike Munchak was an offensive lineman for the Oilers from 1982-93 and then became one of Pardee's assistant coaches.
"We lost a great coach and, more importantly, a great man today," Munchak said in a statement. "I truly admired his passion for football and was especially inspired by his love of the history of the game. He often shared stories of his NFL playing days to motivate his players, which has greatly influenced the way that I now coach my players. Coach Pardee will surely be missed."
Oilers owner Bud Adams traded star quarterback Warren Moon to Minnesota before the 1994 season, and Pardee resigned after a 1-9 start. He ended his NFL coaching career with a record of 87-77. Pardee's last coaching job came when he worked for the Birmingham Barracudas of the Canadian Football League in 1995.
Pardee was born in Iowa and moved to west-central Texas as a teenager. He played six-man football at Christoval High School before moving on to Texas A&M. Bryant became the Aggies' coach in 1954 and moved their preseason camp to desolate Junction, about 100 miles northwest of San Antonio.
The state endured a severe drought and an historic heat wave that year, but Bryant worked his team through the brutal conditions and refused to allow water breaks in an effort to toughen players. Pardee was one of 35 players who made it through to the end of the 10-day camp without quitting.
"Today, we mourn the passing of a great man who dedicated his life to the game of football and was a true gentleman in every sense of the word," Houston athletic director Mack Rhoades said.
Pardee and his wife, Phyllis, were married for more than 50 years and have five children and 12 grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements were pending Monday night.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press