Vikings Ring of Honor Coach Jerry Burns passed away Wednesday at the age of 94.
The Vikings organization is mourning the loss of the innovator, colorful personality and fan favorite who totaled 24 seasons with Minnesota. Burns' tenure included 18 seasons as offensive coordinator (1968-85) and six as head coach (1986-91).
The Wilf family issued the following 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."
View photos of former Vikings head coach and Ring of Honor member, Jerry Burns.
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.
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."
Hall of Fame and Vikings Ring of Honor QB Fran Tarkenton played his final seven pro seasons with Burns as his offensive coordinator, including 1975 when Tarkenton was named NFL MVP.
Tarkenton issued the following statement:
" 'Burnsie' made me laugh and made me smile even if he was 2,000 miles away. He made everybody smile. He was one of the most unique characters we've ever known, but it didn't hide his brilliance. I spent the last seven years of my career with 'Burnsie' and he saved my life.
"He was a brilliant, brilliant coach. He enabled me to be better than I was. We worked together so closely for so long and nobody ever had more fun doing it. We were laughing, yelling and screaming, but never had a cross word to each other. He had my total admiration. Without him, I would never have done what I did. He was critical to the success of the Vikings of that era. He was so important to our success. We had the partnership of partnerships and maintained that relationship long after football."
Burns' legacy included helping the Vikings reach four Super Bowls and win 11 division titles during his time as offensive coordinator, as well as his success as head coach, highlighted by the 1989 NFC Central title and an incredible run in the playoffs that followed the 1987 season.
It also extended to current Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who issued the following statement:
"From the day I started with the Vikings, Jerry Burns was a great friend and someone I loved spending time with. He had a unique outlook on the game, and I learned something every time we talked. The football world lost a great one today."