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The NFL and college football communities lost one of their most influential alumni of the 1980s on Wednesday, as former coaching great and Super Bowl champion Ray Perkins has died at the age of 79, the league announced. Perkins, who had just celebrated his birthday on Sunday, will be remembered for his work with the New York Giants, the University of Alabama and a half-dozen other programs at both the collegiate and professional levels.

A team captain at Alabama during his own college career, when he played alongside future Hall of Famers Joe Namath and Ken Stabler, Perkins is perhaps best known for his reign as the Crimson Tide head coach from 1983-1986. Hired to succeed six-time national champion Bear Bryant, one of the most accomplished coaches in college football history, he went 32-15-1 atop the staff (3-0 in bowl games), including a 19-5-1 stretch over his final two seasons.

"Ray Perkins was a great friend and an outstanding football coach who served ... Alabama with true class and integrity," current Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Wednesday. "Coach Perkins was a great leader who had a tremendous impact on the game of football at all levels. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Lisa, and his children Tony, Mike, Rachael and Shelby."

Prior to coaching at Alabama, Perkins spent four years as the head coach of the Giants. He finished just 23-34 running the G-Men, with three losing seasons and one trip to the playoffs, but he's still revered for his hand in the hiring of two future coaching legends, Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells. The latter, a Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl champ, joined Perkins' staff in 1981 before succeeding Perkins as head coach two years later. Belichick, meanwhile, who's won an NFL-record six titles, was part of Perkins' original staff upon joining the Giants.

Perkins also coached the Buccaneers from 1987-1990, where a 19-41 record preceded a return to assistant jobs around the sport. Before taking up head-coaching duties at Jones College in Mississippi in 2012, he served as offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers (1978), New England Patriots (1993-1996) and Oakland Raiders (1997).

Before coaching, Perkins spent five seasons with the Baltimore Colts, who drafted him in 1966. A teammate of Johnny Unitas during the Colts' Super Bowl V championship run, he played wide receiver and caught a touchdown pass from Unitas in the 1970 AFC Championship.