Hall of Fame head coach Bud Grant, a Minnesota icon and one of the best NFL coaches of the 1970s, turns 93 today.
Grant took the Vikings to the Super Bowl in eight years, capping the 1969, 1973, 1974, and 1976 seasons with appearances in Super Bowls IV, VIII, IX, and XI.
Before coaching, Grant was a first-round pick of the Eagles and a fourth-round pick of the Lakers, in the same year (1950). He played for the then-Minneapolis Lakers, at a time when Sid Hartman (now of the Minneapolis Star Tribune) was the team’s G.M.
After two seasons of NBA basketball, Grant joined the Eagles, playing defensive end one year (and leading the team in sacks) before flipping to receiver. Grant then continued his football career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, with four years as a player and then a decade as the team’s coach. Along the way, the Blue Bombers won four CFL championships.
That caught the eye of the Vikings, who hired Grant to replace Norm Van Brocklin, the first coach in franchise history. Grant spent 17 years with the Vikings, retiring in 1984 and then un-retiring for a season after the disastrous Les Steckel year, when the Vikings went 3-13.
The Vikings won the NFC Central 11 times under Grant’s leadership. Grant still serves as a consultant to the Vikings, and he has an office at the team’s facility.
Grant recently called Paul Allen’s show during a regular segment with Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, addressing among other things the team’s ability to thrive in freezing conditions.
“We practiced in cold weather, and we brainwashed the players that you aren’t cold,” Grant said.
Grant brainwashed himself five years ago, walking to midfield for the coin toss on a below-zero day at TCF Bank Stadium with no jacket and short sleeves. It was, and likely will be, the last outdoor NFL game played in Minnesota, for decades if not forever.