Former Vikings Offensive Coordinator, Head Coach Jerry Burns Dies at 94

Burns is a Vikings legend whose personality and offensive innovations will live on forever in franchise lore.
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Former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator and head coach Jerry Burns has passed away at the age of 94, the team announced on social media on Wednesday.

Burns is a member of the Vikings Ring of Honor and will go down as a franchise legend for his 24 years of coaching in Minnesota. Known for his personality and his innovative offensive mind, he was beloved by his players and fellow coaches and will be sorely missed.

Born in 1927, Burns played quarterback at Michigan and spent 12 years coaching at the University of Iowa, including five years as the Hawkeyes' head coach. His first NFL job was as an assistant for the Packers in 1966 and 1967 when they won the first two Super Bowls. He then was hired by Bud Grant and would spend the rest of his coaching life with the Vikings.

From 1968 to 1985, Burns served as the Vikings' offensive coordinator under Grant (and, for one season, Les Steckel). Minnesota made the playoffs in 12 of those seasons, winning 11 NFC Central titles in 13 years from 1968 to 1980. They made four Super Bowl appearances during that time.

In 1986, Burns took over for Grant as the fourth head coach in franchise history. The Vikings snapped a four-year playoff drought in '87, reaching the NFC championship game. They made the playoffs again in '88 and '89, falling to the 49ers both times. At age 63, Burns announced his retirement from coaching following the 1991 season.

Burns was the architect of some fantastic offenses led by Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman, and Tommy Kramer. He was also known for being a passionate, fiery leader, as evidenced in this epic (and profane) post-game rant from 1989 in defense of then-offensive coordinator Bob Schnelker.

Tributes have come pouring in from the Vikings community following Burns' death.