John Teerlinck, a longtime NFL assistant coach who was with the Vikings for three seasons, died Sunday night. He was 69.
Teerlinck coached the Vikings defensive line under Dennis Green from 1992 to ’94. When former Vikings defensive tackle John Randle went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, he chose Teerlinck as his presenter.
“It’s the greatest honor of my career,” Teerlinck said at the time. “I’ve been a part of three teams that won Super Bowls. But not many assistant coaches get an honor like this in their lifetime.”
Randle told the Star Tribune that year: “John Teerlinck is kind of like Mr. Miyagi He’s very unorthodox. A different breed. Rough around the edges. He tells you things that are funny, but they register if you just listen. That’s why he’s the guru.”
Teerlinck coached under Tony Dungy as the Colts defensive line coach from 2002 to ’12, finishing a career that included coaching stints with the Browns, Rams, Lions and Broncos. He won three Super Bowl rings — two in Denver and one in Indianapolis.
Dwight Freeney had 107 ½ sacks in 11 seasons under Teerlinck with the Colts.
“He was an innovator and his teachings were way ahead of his time,” Freeney said in a statement released by the Colts.
Following a college career at Western Illinois, Teerlinck was taken by the Chargers in the fifth round in 1974. He played two seasons in the NFL before starting his coaching career at Iowa Lakes Community College.
He coached three Hall of Famers — Randle and Chris Doleman with the Vikings and Kevin Greene with the Rams.
Doleman died in January. In his Hall speech in 2012, he said: “I ended up with a great coach in John Teerlinck, who told us that anything you wanted in life, you could get through sacks. Money, fame, women, cars. I think what he was trying to say, ‘If you want the best you have to be the best.’ ”
Teerlinck’s son, Bill, coached in the NFL and is now defensive line coach at Virginia Tech.