Former NFL player, head coach Jack Patera dies at 85

By Vincent Frank
Aug 9, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; Minnesota Vikings helmet on the field during the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The man responsible for the Los Angeles Rams’ Fearsome Foursome defensive line and the Purple People Eaters of Minnesota Vikings fame has passed away at the age of 85.

The Seattle Times is reporting that former NFL player and coach Jack Patera passed away of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday while residing in the Washington town of Cle Elum.

A former guard at Oregon, Patera transitioned to linebacker in the NFL, playing for three different teams from 1955-61. Though, Patera is known more for being the brains behind two of the most-dominant defensive lines in the NFL.

That included a stint with the Los Angeles Rams as their defensive line coach from 1963-67, where he coached future Hall of Famers Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones.

Then, after a brief stint with the New York Giants, Patera took over in the same capacity for the Minnesota Vikings. A unit that would later be coined the Purple People Eaters, this defensive line included the likes of Alan Page, Carl Eller and Jim Marshall.

Patera would go on to become the first head coach in Seattle Seahawks history, posting a 35-59 record in six-plus seasons with the then-expansion franchise.

“He was a great coach,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. “He was a great dude. I know the guys that played for him really loved playing fo him. When we met them, on the days they come in for alumni days, he was really important to all those guys. Really important to a lot of them. So we’ll miss him.”

Former Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn also paid tribute to the man that coached him during his time in the Pacific Northwest.

He is survived by two younger brothers, former Olympian Ken Patera and ex-49ers kicker Dennis Patera.