Richard Harris, assistant head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, died Tuesday. (Winnipeg Blue Bombers)

Richard Harris, the assistant head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, died suddenly Tuesday afternoon at age 63.

Harris collapsed and was taken to hospital from the team's practice facility at CanadInns Stadium. He later died, the club said in a news release.

A popular coach with both players and fans, Harris joined Winnipeg’s coaching staff in 2006 following one season with the Ottawa Renegades as their defensive line coach.

"This has struck our entire organization from the top down," said Blue Bomber president Jim Bell. "We are all in a state of shock, and first and foremost would like to express our deepest sympathies to his family. The Winnipeg football club has lost not only a great coach, but an even better man."

Former Blue Bomber Troy Westwood said Harris was well loved by everyone he met and a role model.

"When you consider what we should be as men in the community … to our families, to our friends and to people out and about and society in general, he would be a good example of what many of us should strive to be," said Westwood.

Prior to his stints in Winnipeg and Ottawa, Harris was the defensive line coach for the B.C. Lions for four seasons.

Harris also coached in the Northwest Football League and with the Portland Prowlers of the Indoor Professional Football League.

As a player, Harris spent eight seasons in the NFL. A first-round draft pick (fifth overall) of the Philadelphia Eagles, he played three seasons with them before joining the Chicago Bears for two years.

He wrapped up his career with a three-year stint as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. In college, Harris played at Grambling State University under legendary head coach Eddie Robinson.

Harris and his wife, Tami, made Winnipeg their year-round home. Harris leaves four children: Kimberly, Chianti, Jennifer and Michael; and two grandsons, Chandler and Keegan-Michael, along with a granddaughter, Aurora.