Former Colts defensive line coaching great John Teerlinck dies

INDIANAPOLIS -- Former NFL defensive line coaching great John Teerlinck, who coached with the Indianapolis Colts from 2002-12, has died at the age of 69.

"Rest In Peace, John Teerlinck," Colts owner Jim Irsay wrote on Twitter. "One of our sport's all-time greatest assistant coaches. And a Horseshoe guy, through-and-through."

Helping develop some of the NFL's best pass-rushers was a staple of Teerlinck's during his 23-year coaching career that included being a part of six teams and helping three of those teams win a Super Bowl. Thirty-one of the players Teerlinck coached were selected to the Pro Bowl.

Teerlinck coached seven players -- Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney, Chris Doleman, John Randle, Kevin Greene, Bubba Baker and Neil Smith -- who had at least 100 sacks in their careers. Randle, Doleman and Greene are part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"R.I.P to THE GREATEST Passrush Coach OF ALL TIME!!!! #JohnTeerlinck," Mathis wrote on Twitter.

Randle, who finished his career with 137.5 sacks, had Teerlinck present him during his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in 2010.

"First of all, I want to thank John Teerlinck for presenting me, motivating me, focusing me on the game that I love," Randle said in his Hall of Fame speech. "I also want to say, John, thank you for saying I could excel and play in the National Football League, even though I wasn't drafted, didn't play for a major school. Also thank you for showing me what sometimes I didn't see in myself."

Teerlinck helped Mathis and Freeney become one of the best pass-rushing duos in the NFL while with the Colts. Mathis retired with 123 sacks and Freeney had 107.5 of his career 125.5 sacks while with the Colts.

"JT was a man of true legend," Freeney said in a statement. "He was an innovator and his teachings were way ahead of his time. 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!"

Teerlinck, a defensive tackle, was a fifth-round pick by the Chargers out of Western Illinois in 1974. He played in 20 games in the 1974 and 1975 seasons.

Teerlinck started his coaching career at Iowa Lakes Community College in 1977 while also working at Eastern Illinois and Illinois before getting his first NFL job with the Cleveland Browns in 1989.

"One of the greatest coaches to ever step foot in our building," Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said. "We are certainly mindful of that today. What a great coach and what an awesome job he's done and did with coaching that exact thing we are talking about, the defensive line."