"Whoever made that decision was the stupidest man in sports and knew
absolutely nothing about a winning team. Jerry definitely was in line to take
But you decided
to stay on as offensive coordinator under Steckel—until it became clear that
you had been stripped of most of your power. " Steckel was big on that old
Bill Walsh thing of charting the first 10 plays of the game," says Bob
Anderson, one of your best friends and a business associate. "Burnsie hated
that. He told me he would get so unhappy that he wouldn't even put his headset
on in the booth at the beginning of the game. 'Why put it on?' he said to me
one time. 'Here are the plays. There's nothing to say anyway.' "
With six games
left in the season, you announced your resignation. You were all set to become
Marty Schottenheimer's offensive coordinator in Cleveland. But Steckel, a
former Marine who had served in Vietnam, tried to run the Vikings as if he were
retaking Saigon, and the team rebelled. The Vikings lost those last six games,
and Steckel was fired.
Grant returned as
head coach, you stayed on, and a week after the '85 season was over, you were
awakened by another phone call. This time it was 6 a.m., and Lynn was calling
you at your condo in Jamaica saying he needed to see you. He offered you the
head coaching job.
Lynn and the
players say your steadying influence is the main reason the Vikings are back on
the rise. Naturally, you're not so sure. "I tell you, it's different being
a head coach," you say. "The credit for this club should go to the
coordinators and to the guys who work for them. I'm more of a guy who has to
come in and b.s. you guys."
That's no way to
impress America, Burnsie. But, hey, what the hell do you care? Remember what
you said after that roast last summer? "These guys tell a lot of stories
about me, and none of them are true. You know, you can't get the best of me
because my mother, who lived to be 97 years old, always said, 'Son, don't take
yourself too seriously. Nobody else does.' "