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John Teerlinck: Defensive Line Coach for the Indianapolis Colts

Though the players of the Indianapolis Colts are certainly an important part of the football team, winning begins with the coaches. Though in recent years the Colts defense hasn’t been very potent in comparison with the rest of the NFL, this is not the fault of defensive line coach John Teerlinck, a 30 year veteran of the NFL and a Fishers, Indiana resident. Under Teerlinck’s leadership, the defensive line of the Colts has prospered: in 2009, DE Dwight Freeney was tied for third in sacks, and both Freeney and fellow DE Robert Mathis earned Pro Bowl berths that year. Though Teerlinck is definitely not the only one responsible for these stats (Mathis and Freeney are both All-Star caliber players), his long coaching experience has certainly been a boon to Indianapolis sports.

John Teerlinck was born in Rochester, New York in 1951. He went to high school at Fenwick High School in Chicago; while playing football there, he was named part of the All-Chicago Catholic League. His football success continued into his college career. He attended Western Illinois University, where, as a defensive end, he was the team’s defensive MVP in 1973 after posting 122 tackles and 14 sacks that year. He holds the school’s record for most sacks in a single game. Teerlinck is even a member of the Western Illinois Hall of Fame.

Teerlinck’s professional playing career was not to be as successful. He was drafted in 1974 by the San Diego Chargers, and he did well in his rookie season as a backup: he started in two games and posted 7.5 sacks. In 1975, however, he was struck by a knee injury that would permanently end his days as a professional football player in 1977. Despite being forever unable to play football, John Teerlinck refused to give up the game entirely. He earned his first coaching job at Iowa Lakes Junior College later that same year.

From there, John Teerlinck built the foundation for a long, successful defensive coaching career. He graduated to a non-junior college in 1978, when he was the defensive coordinator at Eastern Illinois, and soon after he was promoted to the University of Illinois, where his coaching in part led to the first Illinois bowl game since the 60’s. From the college circuit, John Teerlinck made a move to the professional leagues in the now-defunct USFL as a line coach with the Chicago Blitz.  He spent several years in the USFL, from 1983 to 1986, but it would be the NFL that would make Teerlinck’s name.

Teerlinck began the NFL with the Cleveland Browns in 1980, joined the Los Angeles Rams in 1991, then moved to the Minnesota Vikings in 1992, where he stayed until 1994. With his first three teams, Teerlinck coached two Defensive Players of the Year and helped the Vikings create one of the top defenses in the entire league; three of the four linemen he coached with the Vikings later turned All-Pro. Teerlinck spent time with the Detroit Lions and the Denver Broncos before ending up in Indianapolis in 2002. He’s been with Indy ever since.

John Teerlinck is an effective part of the Indianapolis Colts coaching roster, one of many Indianapolis sports figures that live in Fishers, Indiana. Over his long coaching career, Teerlinck has brought home Super Bowl rings from the Denver Broncos (Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII) and the Indianapolis Colts (Super Bowl XLI), one of only 24 coaches to win Super Bowls with more than one team. Despite his career ending knee injury, John Teerlinck never gave up on football, and his thirty years with the NFL are a testament to this famous Fishers person‘s tenacity.


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