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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT Shines on Coach John Teerlinck, Friar Class of 1969

April 25, 2019

The former LaGrange Park resident and NFL ‘sack tasker’ is Fenwick’s newest inductee into the Chicago Catholic League Coaches’ Hall of Fame.


For 10 seasons, Coach Teerlinck (center, hands on knees) paced the sidelines with the Indianapolis Colts, with whom he won a Super Bowl ring in 2006-07 -- against the Bears!

Fenwick Fact: Highly acclaimed Defensive Line Coach John Teerlinck ’69 is the only Friars’ alumnus with three Super Bowl rings from the National Football League (NFL). Teerlinck knows how to creatively apply pressure — in a football context, that is.


As a high-school player at Fenwick, Teerlinck (No. 77) was All-CCL as a senior in the fall of 1968. He developed a reputation as a ferocious pass rusher and became an All-American at Western Illinois University.

Teaching elite athletes the proper techniques needed to effectively rush the passer is his specialty, and the coach excelled at the collegiate and highest professional level. Teerlinck has coached in 32 NFL playoff games, including six AFC Championship Games and four Super Bowls.

He is one of only 23 coaches to win a Super Bowl with more than one team: two back to back with the Denver Broncos (1997 and 1998) in the John Elway era and one with the Indianapolis Colts (2006) in the Peyton Manning era. (“Sorry, Bears fans,” jokes Teerlinck, whose family moved when he was eight years old from upstate New York to suburban LaGrange Park, IL.)


Minnesota Vikings' defensive tackle/end John Randle respects his position coach so much that he asked Teerlinck to present him for his Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement.

In recognition of his sideline accomplishments, this evening the Chicago Catholic League (CCL) will induct Teerlinck, its native son, into the 2019 Coaches Association HALL OF FAME class. Many football observers refer to Coach “Link” as the GOAT: the greatest defensive line coach of all time. The “John Teerlinck Award” is given annually to the best defensive line coach in the NFL.


“Coach Teerlinck has coached many former teammates of mine, and we have friends in common from throughout our professional careers,” says Gene Nudo, Fenwick’s present Head Coach, who was a coach and executive in the Arena Football League before joining the Friars in 2012. “It surprised me to learn that this great coach was an alum of Fenwick. He, like so many others, has done the ‘Shield’ proud with his many professional achievements,” which is what led Nudo to nominate Teerlinck for the CCL HOF honor.


Teerlinck's senior portrait at Fenwick, 50 years ago.

Before coaching in college and the pros, however, Teerlinck was just proud to be a Fenwick Friar. “Going to Fenwick was a big deal,” he recalled last week from his home in Indiana. Literally thousands of boys would take the admissions test in those days, he said. “Only three of nine [boys] from my school got in,” remembers the straight-A student from St. Louise de Marillac. “About 150 guys would try out for football in those days.” Youthful John is pictured among the 47 new Friars in his freshman Blackfriars yearbook (1965-66) photograph. (The team finished 3-2-1.)

Three years before, as an impressionable sixth-grader, Teerlinck attended the ’62 Chicago Prep Bowl between Fenwick and Public League champion Schurz. “Jim DiLullo [’63] scored five touchdowns. Mike Barry [the center, Class of 1964] was on that team,” Teerlinck recalls. “It was fantastic to see them out there wearing the black and white,” he says 56 years later. As they had all season long, “the black and white dominated.” Indeed, the Fighting Friars that year outscored opponents 317-32, according to statistics kept by the Chicago Catholic League (CCL).



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