Jerry Burns, Vikings Ring of Honor Coach, Dies at Age 94

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 12, 2021

Former Minnesota Vikings coach Jerry Burns walks the field before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt

The Minnesota Vikings announced that long-time coach Jerry Burns died on Wednesday. He was 94. 

Minnesota Vikings @Vikings

The #Vikings mourn the loss of Ring of Honor coach Jerry Burns.<br> <br>Burns, who served as the franchise’s offensive coordinator (1968–1985) and head coach (1986-1991), passed away today at the age of 94. pic.twitter.com/OSncmzfMVl

A number of key figures across the organization's history released statements mourning Burns:

Minnesota Vikings @Vikings

The Wilf Family on Jerry Burns pic.twitter.com/3RuMOlqYgR

Minnesota Vikings @Vikings

Head Coach Mike Zimmer on the passing of Jerry Burns pic.twitter.com/B9yC7ypDuw

Burns started his coaching career as an assistant for Hawaii in 1951 and spent his next 15 years coaching in the college ranks, eventually becoming Iowa's head coach (1961-65). The Hawkeyes went 16-27-2 under his watch. 

He was then hired by the Green Bay Packers and served as the defensive backs coach for two years (1966-67) before taking over as Minnesota's offensive coordinator in 1968, a role he held until 1985. The Vikings went to four Super Bowls in that time, though they fell short of winning a title each time. 

Burns went 52-43 as the team's head coach (1986-91), leading the team to the postseason three times. His Vikings' teams went 3-3 in the playoffs. 

John Boyle @johnpboyle

Pete Carroll has told many fond and humorous stories about working under Jerry Burns in the 80s, including the time he tried to talk Burnsie into letting a 30-somethign DB coach play QB during the '87 strike season. https://t.co/ScnvtOTlij

Jim Souhan @SouhanStrib

So sad to hear of the passing of Jerry Burns. What a wonderful character and offensive innovator. He, <br>Fran &amp; Chuck popularized the West Coast offense before it was known as the West Coast offense.

Chris Tomasson @christomasson

Ex-#Vikings RB Chuck Foreman on Jerry Burns:<br>“Bill Walsh got credit for Jerry Burns’ offense. That was our offense. That wasn’t (the 49ers) offense. We incorporated that to take advantage of my abilities as a receiver so we were throwing that way before the West Coast Offense.’’

Chris Tomasson @christomasson

Talked to ex-QB Tommy Kramer on the passing of ex-#Vikings head coach Jerry Burns at age 94: “I’m very sad to hear it but he had a good long life. And he was the funniest person that I’ve ever met, I’ll tell you that.”

Vikings Pro Bowl wideout Ahmad Rashad called Burns "an offensive genius" and described his offense as "revolutionary," per Eric Smith of Vikings.com.

"He's just a special guy," Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton added. "And he's a part of the great history of our team. He's one of the great characters of all time."