Along with the passing of Bill Brown, the Minnesota Vikings lost another significant piece of the early part of their history this week when former coach Jack Patera passed away on Wednesday at the age of 85 due to complications from pancreatic cancer.
Following his playing career in the National Football League that spanned seven seasons with the Baltimore Colts, Chicago Cardinals, and Dallas Cowboys, Patera started his coaching career in 1963 with the Los Angeles Rams as the team’s defensive line coach. He coached the famed Fearsome Foursome (Rosie Grier, Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen, and Deacon Jones), and developed them into one of the most feared defensive fronts in the National Football League.
After one season with the New York Giants, Patera accepted the job as defensive line coach of the Vikings under Bud Grant, and got the opportunity to work with another incredibly talented defensive line in the Purple People Eaters (Alan Page, Jim Marshall, Carl Eller, and Gary Larsen). As he did with the Rams, he helped that group develop into one of the best defensive lines the game has ever seen. He was the Vikings’ defensive line coach in three of the team’s four Super Bowl appearances.
Patera was so impressive as a defensive line coach that in 1976 he moved on to become the first ever head coach of the expansion Seattle Seahawks. Patera was named the NFL’s Coach of the Year in 1978, but overall didn’t have a great deal of success in Seattle. In six-plus seasons as the Seahawks head coach, he compiled a record of 35-59 and was fired two games into the strike-shortened 1982 season. That was his last job as a football coach at any level, as he went into retirement after being let go by Seattle.
Patera, who was born in Bismarck, North Dakota, was also the older brother of famed weightlifter and WWF star Ken Patera.
We want to send our condolences to the family and friends of Jack Patera.