Jerry Burns, former Minnesota Vikings coach who is a member of the team's ring of honor, has died, the team announced. He was 94 years old. According to ESPN, Vikings spokesman Bob Hagan said Burns' son-in-law informed him of Burns' death Wednesday morning.
"Jerry Burns was one of the most important people we met when we came to Minnesota, and he was a foundation of this franchise," the Wilf family said in a statement. "His leadership as a coordinator and head coach for over two decades shaped some of the most successful teams in Vikings history. His love of life, quick smile and sense of humor were what we will remember most. We join Vikings fans worldwide in sending our prayers to his family."
Burns spent a total of 24 seasons with Vikings. His tenure included 18 seasons as the team's offensive coordinator (1986-85) and six as a head coach (1986-91). During his time as the head coach, Burns led the Vikings to the playoffs three consecutive seasons (1987-89) and posted only one losing season (1990). He also led the Vikings to three postseason wins and an appearance in the NFC Championship game in 1987.
As an offensive coordinator, Burns worked with legendary head coach Bud Grant and they helped the team reach the Super Bowl four times in the 1970s. "I met 'Burnsie' at Iowa when he picked me up from the airport when I was visiting down there, and from that point on, we started talking football and never stopped," Grant said in a statement. "We were on the same page a lot. When I went to Winnipeg, I'd have him come up as a guest coach. Our friendship grew over the years, and we became very close friends and so did our families.
"When I got the job in Minnesota, I talked to him about coming here, but he had a contract with Green Bay. The first year I was at the Vikings, I coached one guy short. I was holding the job for 'Burnsie' until he could come the next year. He was a very astute football mind. He could see things on the field immediately. He was as important to my career as anyone I've been involved with. His coaching help, friendship, loyalty, family — he brought everything to the Vikings he had. I'm gonna miss him." Burns was an assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers for two seasons (1966-67) before heading to the Vikings. He was also the head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes (1961-65) and posted a 16-27-2 record.