INDIANAPOLIS – John Teerlinck loved teaching the art of pass rushing. His top students considered him the best instructor in league history.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay announced Sunday on Twitter that Teerlinck, who spent nearly a quarter-century creating mayhem for NFL quarterbacks, had died. The Colts confirmed it was from Irsay's account. Teerlinck was 69.
“Rest In Peace, John Teerlinck," Colts owner Jim Irsay wrote on Twitter, announcing the death late Sunday. “One of our sport’s all-time greatest assistant coaches. And a Horseshoe guy, through-and-through."
His prized pupils routinely showed everyone what they learned.
The late Chris Doleman, John Randle and Kevin Greene went on to have Hall of Fame careers. Four more players — Al “Bubba” Baker, Neil Smith, Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney — all finished their careers with at least 100 sacks. Thirty-one players made the Pro Bowl and at his final stop, Indianapolis, Teerlinck put together one of the most dynamic pass-rushing combinations in recent memory with Mathis and Freeney.
And yet, Teerlinck never served as a defensive coordinator or head coach in the league.
But those who knew Teerlinck understood without his imposing presence, booming voice and demanding tackling dummy drills, they would not have become household names.
“He was an innovator and his teachings were way ahead of his time," Freeney said in a statement released by the Colts. “He taught me so much and I definitely would not have had the career I had if it wasn't for him. I will miss him. Rest in peace my friend, the greatest d-line coach of all-time."