Former NFL coach and player Jack Pardee, whose career in professional football spanned five decades, died of cancer at age 76, his family announced Monday.
Pardee was diagnosed with gall bladder cancer in November and had moved to a hospice facility in a Denver suburb to be near two of his daughters.
After playing for the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins from 1957 through 1972 with a one-year break after he was diagnosed with melanoma on his right arm, Pardee went on to become head coach of the Chicago Bears from 1975 to 1977, the Redskins from 1978 to 1980 and the Houston Oilers from 1990 to 1994. He led the Bears to the playoffs in 1977 and the Oilers to four straight playoff appearances while compiling a career record of 87-77.
Along the way, Pardee also coached the Florida Blazers in the World Football League, the Houston Gamblers in the United States Football League and also in college at the University Houston. His NFL head-coaching career ended in 1994 when he was fired by the Oilers after a 1-9 start. He then coached one year in the Canadian Football League in 1995.
“My dad was committed to football, but he was always close to his family,” Pardee’s son, Ted Pardee, said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “He had a lot of love to give. He was a sweet guy who was never afraid to give us a hug and kiss. He fought a tough battle, and we’re going to miss him.”
Pardee played college football at Texas A&M and was one of the “Junction Boys” under Bear Bryant. He was an All-Southwest Conference player in 1956 who later was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame. His long NFL playing career as a linebacker culminated in an NFC Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1972.
Pardee was Walter Payton’s coach during his rookie year with the Bears in 1975 and was at Houston when quarterback Andre Ware won the Heisman Trophy in 1989 running Pardee’s “Run and Shoot” offense.