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 with the Bears and other teams, has died, University of Houston spokesman David Bassity said.
Pardee was 76.
Bassity said Monday that Pardee's son Ted confirmed the death to him.
Pardee's family announced that he had gall bladder cancer that had spread to other organs and that he had six to nine months to live in November.
Pardee was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
He survived a bout with melanoma when he was 28 and in the middle of his 15-year NFL playing career.
He played six-man football at Christoval High School in west-central Texas, near San Angelo, 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.
Pardee played three seasons at Texas A&M and was the 14th overall pick in the 1957 NFL draft by Los Angeles. He played for the Rams from 1957-64, sat out a year to deal with his melanoma, and played seven more seasons. He finished his playing career with the Washington Redskins in 1973.
He coached in the World Football League for one season before moving on to NFL coaching. He was the Bears' head coach from 1975-77. He led the Bears to their first playoff appearance in 14 years in 1977. He coached the Redskins from 1978-80 and was fired after Washington went 6-10.
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 a 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.
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. Oilers owner Bud Adams traded star quarterback Warren Moon to Minnesota before the 1994 season, and Pardee resigned after a 1-9 start that year.
His name emerged 13 years later for the Houston job, but the school hired Kevin Sumlin instead. Ted is the color analyst for Houston football radio broadcasts.
AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken contributed to this report from Houston.