John Michels, an assistant coach with the Vikings for 27 consecutive seasons, died Thursday, the team announced. He was 87.
Michels coached the offensive line under Bud Grant from 1967-83, then spent the 1984 season coaching running backs during the one season Les Steckel was coach. Grant returned in 1985 and Michels was back to coaching offensive linemen until 1993.
He is the longest serving assistant coach in Vikings history.
Michels was an All-America guard at the University of Tennessee when it won the national championship in 1951. Tennessee was 29-4-1 in three seasons Michels started at guard, and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996. He was drafted by the Eagles in 1953 but played for Grant in the Canadian Football League. Michels became an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers under Grant, who took over the Vikings coaching reins in 1967.
“I had known of John as a player in Philadelphia, and when he was released, I brought him to Winnipeg to play,” Grant told vikings.com. “He was a great player at Tennessee in college even though he was undersized. What made him great on the field was his competitiveness. He played a year for me, and I knew he wanted to get into coaching. He went to Texas A&M for a year, and I brought him on to our staff after that.”
When ex-Vikings tackle Ron Yary made the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001, Michels was his presenter.