Since I've apparently scarred some folks with some of the topics for the 30 Day Challenge over the past few days, I'm going to move things to a bit of a happier sort of topic for this Sunday. Next week, we're probably going to have a bit of a "hate week" concerning other teams and players and what not. . .or, more accurately, an "active dislike" week, since hate takes time and resources that I'm generally not willing to invest.
But, in any case, today's topic goes back to the men on the Vikings' sideline. What we're asking today is this:
Who is your favorite all-time Vikings' coach?
Now, personally, I'm not going to count Bud Grant for purposes of this discussion. . .because, let's be honest, Bud Grant is going to be pretty much everyone's favorite all-time Vikings coach. He's the easy answer. I mean, if you want to say him, go ahead. But I'm going to look a little ways beyond that.
Not too far, though, because the guy I'm going to pick was Bud's right-hand man for much of the time he was in Minnesota.
Jerry Burns served as the Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator for nearly the entire time that Bud Grant was the Vikings' head coach. Grant took the Vikings' job in 1967, and brought in Burns to be his offensive coordinator in 1968. In the 16 seasons from 1968 to 1983, the Vikings made the playoffs twelve times and won eleven NFC Central Division titles.
When Grant retired. . .the first time. . .Burns stayed around as offensive coordinator for Les Steckel in the disastrous 1984 season, and when Grant came back to clean up the mess Steckel left behind, Burns remained the team's offensive coordinator. When Grant retired the second time, the Vikings made the move that they should have made the first time and made Burns the head coach.
Burns didn't have a great record as the head coach of the Vikings, compiling a mark of 52 wins and 43 losses. He led the team to the 1987 NFC Championship game, a game they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins, and to an NFC Central Division title in 1989. He retired following the 1991 season.
While serving as the team's offensive coordinator, Burns was one of the original architects of what came to be known as the "West Coast offense." He never got much of the credit for building the system, though. Most of the credit went to Bill Walsh. However, according to Sid Hartman, even Walsh himself acknowledged the role that Burns played in its creation.
The legendary San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh is always given credit for coming up with the so-called West Coast offense. One night I was driving home from a speech, I was listening to the radio and Walsh was being interviewed on some nighttime sports show. Someone asked him where he got the West Coast offense, and Walsh said, "I stole it from Jerry Burns. The Vikings found out that a five-yard pass from Fran Tarkenton to Chuck Foreman was as good as a five-yard run."
(Yeah, it's Sid. Take it with as much salt as you feel necessary.)
And, we can't possibly do this without a reminder that Burnsie gave us the single-best post-game press conference in Minnesota Vikings history. As always when we use this video, consider this your "naughty language" warning.
Oh, and remember, this came after a game that the Vikings won.
I know that I'll never blame Schnelker for anything, no matter what it is.
But that's my take on it, folks. Now to all of you. . .who is your favorite all-time Minnesota Vikings' coach?