POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 16, 2013
The football world lost two men Friday.
Rick Casares, a star running back for the Chicago Bears who was once their all-time leading rusher, died at the age of 82.
The Bears reported on their website that he died Friday at his home in Tampa, Fla.
A five-time Pro Bowl pick and a member of the 1963 championship team, Casares played 10 seasons in Chicago and ran for 5,675 yards. He was the Bears’ all-time leading rusher until Walter Payton surpassed him and currently ranks third.
Casares also played for Washington in 1965 and Miami in 1966 and starred at the University of Florida.
Longtime college football coach Mike Dunbar also died at his home Friday. He was 64.
The last time Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey saw the former Huskies offensive coordinator was to place an Orange Bowl ring in his hands.
That memory of last spring’s meeting is especially meaningful to Carey after Dunbar died in his home state of Washington after a battle with cancer.
“I don’t think (the trip) was bittersweet; it was just sweet,” Carey said. “It was a good evening, to say the least. He was appreciative and we were ecstatic.”
Coaches remember Dunbar as an organized coordinator who saw the game differently from others. He made 10 stops during his coaching journey, working as a coordinator at Northwestern (2001-05), California (2006) and Minnesota (2007-08) and New Mexico State in 2010 before joining Northern Illinois in 2012.
He was the head coach at Northern Iowa from 1997-2000.
“Probably his greatest legacy is he was a great coach of coaches,” said Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, who worked alongside Dunbar as Wildcats linebackers coach. “He was a true pro’s pro. I just learned a ton from him on a daily basis.”
Dunbar left NIU last season after the first game to deal with his illness. Carey moved into the offensive coordinator role and was named head coach before the Orange Bowl when Dave Doreen took the North Carolina State job.
“I learned so much from him from an organizational standpoint,” Carey said. “The X’s and O’s and how he saw the game, everything had a place and a purpose. He would arrive at things through his process that other people wouldn’t even think of. He looked like a genius. He’d say, ’I’m not a genius, I’m just too dumb to do it any other way.’”
Dunbar is survived by his wife of 40 years, Linda, and two children.
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