For 24 seasons -- six of them as a head coach -- Jerry Burns was an integral part of the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff, a valuable part to the franchise's most successful seasons and following his time on the sidelines became one of three coaches enshrined in the franchise's Ring of Honor.
Burns died on Wednesday, the team announced. He was 94.
"Jerry Burns was one of the most important people we met when we came to Minnesota, and he was a foundation of this franchise," Vikings owners the Wilf family said in a statement through the team. "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."
From 1968 through 1985, Burns was the Vikings' offensive coordinator. He then moved on to lead the team as its head coach from 1986 through 1991, producing a 56-43 record that included four consecutive winning seasons to start his tenure.
Burns' time as head coach was highlighted by the Vikings' 1987 team marching to the NFC Championship Game, where it lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion, Washington.
As an offensive coordinator, Burns, who was also an assistant for two seasons with the Packers, was a guiding force in all four of the Vikings' Super Bowl appearances -- plus 11 division titles -- during his time. He coached alongside Hall of Famer Bud Grant, who remembered Burns fondly upon Wednesday's news.
"When I got the job in Minnesota, I talked to him about coming here, but he had a contract with Green Bay," Grant said. "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 took a rightful spot in the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2005.
"From the day I started with the Vikings, Jerry Burns was a great friend and someone I loved spending time with," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said in a statement. "He had a unique outlook on the game, and I learned something every time we talked. The football world lost a great one today."