How did Jerry Burns die? Minnesota Vikings coach dies at 94, fans say 'you changed the game'

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


                            How did Jerry Burns die? Minnesota Vikings coach dies at 94, fans say 'you changed the game'
Jerry Burn, who had served the Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator and head coach, died at the age of 94 (Getty Images)

Vikings Ring of Honor Coach Jerry Burns, who won two Super Bowls as a Packers assistant died on Wednesday, May 12, due to failing health at the age of 94. The Vikings said in a statement: "Jerry Burns was one of the most important people we met when we came to Minnesota, and he was a foundation of this franchise. 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."

Born on January 24, 1927, in Detroit, Burns played quarterback at the University of Michigan. He took over the Vikings in 1986 and instantly improved the team, going 9-7 in his first season and then reaching the NFC Championship Game in his second season. But while Burns would make the playoffs two more times, he never got past the divisional round, and he retired after an 8-8 season in 1991.

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(Twitter)

Hall of Fame Head Coach and fellow Vikings Ring of Honor member Bud Grant enjoyed a deep relationship with Burns that extended before and after their time together on the Vikings sidelines. Following Burns's death Grant issued the following statement: "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. 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."

(Twitter)

 

Burns's career

 After playing at Michigan as a backup quarterback and punter from 1947 to 1950, Burns started coaching at Hawaii and Whittier, where he taught baseball and basketball in addition to football. Eventually, he made his way to Iowa, where he took the job as an assistant coach in 1954 and was later promoted to head coach in 1961. During the five seasons at Iowa, he went a disappointing 16-27-2. Later in 1965, he got fired. From Iowa, Burns went to Green Bay, where he worked as an assistant to Vince Lombardi. Burns helped the Green Bay Packers win the first two Super Bowls as defensive backs coach, then joined iconic Vikings coach Bud Grant as Minnesota's offensive coordinator in 1968. Burns held the position until 1985, and became head coach in 1986, following Les Steckel's 3-13 season in 1984 and Grant's 7-9 campaign in 1985 when he was coaxed out of retirement. 

Minnesota Vikings official page tweeted, "The #Vikings mourn the loss of Ring of Honor coach Jerry Burns. Burns, who served as the franchise’s offensive coordinator (1968–1985) and head coach (1986-1991), passed away today at the age of 94." Sports Journalist, Will Ragatz said, "RIP Jerry Burns, who spent 24 years as the #Vikings’ offensive coordinator or head coach, going to the playoffs in 15 of those seasons. This 1989 postgame rant in defense of OC Bob Schnelker is legendary. (Profanity warning)"



 

 



 

 

Jim Souhan tweeted, "So sad to hear of the passing of Jerry Burns. What a wonderful character and offensive innovator. He, Fran & Chuck popularized the West Coast offense before it was known as the West Coast offense." Journalist Esme Murphy said, "Somewhere in heaven Jerry Burns and Jim Klobuchar are telling tall tails(sic) and trying to beat each other in racquetball."



 

 



 

 

Remembering him a fan said, "A great person in the history of the #Vikings. Thankful for his part in Vikings history, and my thoughts and prayers go out to Jerry Burns' friends and family. May he rest in peace." While one said, "He was the first Vikings coach I ever really remember. 33 years with the Vikings is impressive as hell. RIP." Another fan said, "Rest in peace burnsy you change the game it was a privilege to be a part of it."