Jerry Burns
Burns from 1962 Hawkeye
Biographical details
Born(1927-01-24)January 24, 1927
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
DiedMay 12, 2021(2021-05-12) (aged 94)
Eden Prairie, Minnesota, U.S.
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1951Hawaii (assistant)
1952Whittier (assistant)
1953St. Mary's of Redford HS (MI)
1954–1960Iowa (assistant)
1966–1967Green Bay Packers (assistant)
1968–1985Minnesota Vikings (OC)
1986–1991Minnesota Vikings
Head coaching record
Overall16–27–2 (college football)
55–46 (NFL)
3–7 (college baseball)

Jerome Monahan Burns (January 24, 1927 – May 12, 2021) was an American college and professional football coach. He played in college for the Michigan Wolverines before becoming a coach. He was the head coach for the Iowa Hawkeyes from 1961 to 1965, compiling a record of 16–27–2, and for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL) from 1986 to 1991, tallying a mark of 52–43 in the regular season, and 3–3 in the postseason.[1] Between his head coaching stints Burns was a defensive assistant (1965–1967) for the Green Bay Packers, helping the team win Super Bowls I and II, and Offensive Coordinator (1968–1985) for the Minnesota Vikings, where he coached the team to four Super Bowl appearances.

Early coaching career

Burns served as the head baseball coach and assistant football coach with the University of Hawaii in 1951. Burns left Hawaii to coach at Whittier College in 1952, where he was the head basketball coach and an assistant football coach. At the beginning of 1953, he left Whittier and took a job as head football and head basketball coach at St. Mary's of Redford High School in Detroit, Michigan.[1] Following the 1953 football season at St. Mary's, Burns was hired by fellow Michigan alumnus Forest Evashevski as an assistant coach at the University of Iowa.[2] Burns began serving as an assistant coach at Iowa under Evashevski in 1954.[3]

Iowa head coach

Burns served seven total years as an assistant coach to Evashevski.[3] As part of a deal with Iowa Athletic Board,[citation needed] Evashevski was appointed Iowa's athletic director and agreed to appoint his successor. He then appointed Burns to become Iowa's 20th head football coach beginning with the 1961 season.[4]

Before his first game as a college head coach, the 1961 Hawkeye team was named the number one team in the AP Preseason Poll.[4] Iowa started the season by winning their first four games in 1961 before losing their next four. In their final game, the Hawkeyes defeated Notre Dame 42–21[5] for the team's fifth win in six years over the Irish.[5] Iowa finished the season 5–4, their last winning record until 1981.

In 1962, Iowa defeated both Michigan and Ohio State, the only time in school history that the school had defeated both teams in the same year. However, the Hawkeyes won only two other games and posted a 4–5 final record. The school's final game of the season against Notre Dame was canceled on account of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The Hawkeyes finished 1963 with a 3–3–2 record.

A 3–0 start in the 1964 season quickly turned sour, as the Hawkeyes lost their final six games. Burns was now in real danger of being fired, but Iowa had several players returning in 1965 and the Hawkeyes were expected to be very good; Playboy Magazine picked Iowa as their Preseason Number One team and predicted a 9–1 record. Instead, Iowa finished the year 1–9 and, before Iowa's final game that season, it was announced that Burns would not be retained in 1966.

Of his firing, Burns said, "I want to be emphatic. I hold no ill feelings toward anyone. I hope, I sincerely hope, Iowa has great success in football in the future. If I can contribute to that future, I will." After his final game, his players hoisted him on their shoulders and carried him off the field, despite the loss.[6] There were those who insisted that Athletic Director Evashevski wanted to return as football coach and that rather than helping Burns to succeed, Evashevski hampered him with rules and regulations that were not in force when he was the coach. But Burns ultimately said, "If we have failed, and we have, I'll take the responsibility for that. It is not the players' fault. They have done the best they can."[7] He had a 16–27–2 record at Iowa.

Professional coaching career

Burns was 38 years of age when he was fired at Iowa. He moved on to the Green Bay Packers of the NFL and served for two years as an assistant coach to Vince Lombardi in 1966 and 1967 when the Packers won Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II.[8][9] When Lombardi retired after the 1967 season, Burns was hired by Bud Grant of the Minnesota Vikings.[10] Grant hired Burns to be his offensive coordinator. Burns served as Minnesota's offensive coordinator for the next 18 years, from 1968–1985. During that time, the Vikings made the playoffs 12 times, won 11 division titles, and played in four Super Bowls.

When Grant retired from coaching for the second time in 1985, Burns was named as the 4th head coach of the Minnesota Vikings on January 7, 1986. He coached Minnesota for six years, from 1986 to 1991. Burns compiled a record of 52–43 and led the Vikings to the playoffs three times.[11] He helped the Vikings win the division title in 1989 and led them to the NFC championship game in 1987. On November 5, 1989, Burns gave a profanity laced tirade during a postgame press conference where he defended his offensive coordinator, Bob Schnelker,[12] despite the fact that the Vikings' Rich Karlis kicked a then league record-tying seven field goals en route to a 23–21 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

On December 4, 1991, Burns announced that he would retire from coaching after the 1991 NFL season; he finished his final season with an 8–8 record.[13] He has been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but has yet to gain the votes necessary for induction. In 1998, Burns gave the Hall of Fame induction speech for Paul Krause, a defensive back he coached both at Iowa and with the Vikings.


Burns died on May 12, 2021, at the age of 94 due to a variety of ongoing health issues at his home in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.[14][15] The Minnesota Vikings,[16] former Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant, former (then current) Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, and Hall of Fame Quarterback Fran Tarkenton released statements paying tribute.[16]

Head coaching record

College football

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Iowa Hawkeyes (Big Ten Conference) (1961–1965)
1961 Iowa 5–4 2–4 T–7th
1962 Iowa 4–5 3–3 T–5th
1963 Iowa 3–3–2 2–3–1 8th
1964 Iowa 3–6 1–5 T–9th
1965 Iowa 1–9 0–7 10th
Iowa: 16–27–2 8–22–1
Total: 16–27–2


Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
MIN 1986 9 7 0 .563 2nd in NFC Central
MIN 1987 8 7 0 .533 2nd in NFC Central 2 1 .667 Lost to Washington Redskins in NFC Championship Game
MIN 1988 11 5 0 .688 2nd in NFC Central 1 1 .500 Lost to San Francisco 49ers in NFC Divisional Game
MIN 1989 10 6 0 .625 1st in NFC Central 0 1 .000 Lost to San Francisco 49ers in NFC Divisional Game
MIN 1990 6 10 0 .375 5th in NFC Central
MIN 1991 8 8 0 .500 3rd in NFC Central
MIN Total[1] 52 43 0 .547 3 3 .500


  1. ^ a b c "Jerry Burns Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks". 1927-01-24. Retrieved 2012-05-05.
  2. ^ "Jerry Burns Coaching Record | College Football at". Archived from the original on 2011-12-19. Retrieved 2012-05-05.
  3. ^ a b "Backfield Coach Burns Succeeds Evashevski". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press. 1960-11-20. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  4. ^ a b "Hawkeyes Under Spotlight". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press. 1961-09-13. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  5. ^ a b "Iowa Belts Notre Dame By 42 to 21". The Pittsburgh Press. United Press International. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  6. ^ 25 Years With The Fighting Hawkeyes, 1964–1988, by Al Grady, Page 9 (ASIN: B0006ES3GS)
  7. ^ Grady, Page 10
  8. ^ "Packers Hire Jerry Burns As Assistant". The Montreal Gazette. Associated Press. 1966-02-01. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  9. ^ "Burns Quits Packer Staff". The Milwaukee Journal. 1968-02-19. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  10. ^ "Beyond his lively adjectives, Jerry Burns' football savvy was underappreciated". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  11. ^ "Jerry Burns". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  12. ^ Weyler, John (1989-11-06). "Viking Coach Lashes Out at Critics of His Offensive Coordinator". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  13. ^ "Vikings' Burns Will Retire After Season". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Associated Press. 1991-12-05. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  14. ^ Tomasson, Chris (12 May 2021). "Former Vikings coach Jerry Burns dies at age 94". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  15. ^ Craig, Mark (May 12, 2021). "Jerry Burns, former Vikings coach, dies at 94". Star Tribune. Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  16. ^ a b Wald, Jeff (May 12, 2021). "Legendary Minnesota Vikings coach Jerry Burns dies at 94". Fox 9 News. Retrieved May 12, 2021.