Today, the greatest head coach in the history of the Minnesota Vikings (and one of the greatest in NFL history) has reached a milestone birthday.
Bud Grant, who led the Vikings to all four of their Super Bowl appearances and might still be the greatest icon in Vikings history, turns 90 years old today. He’s fresh off of what he’s said will be his last ever garage sale, and has told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he plans on celebrating the big 9-0 with. . .Chinese food. Because why not, right?
We’ve been over pretty much all of Bud Grant’s accomplishments before, but hey. . .there’s nothing wrong with going over them again.
Coach Grant graduated from high school in 1945 and enlisted in the Navy. Following his time in the service, was a three-sport letterman (football, basketball, and baseball) at the University of Minnesota. After leaving the University of Minnesota in 1950, he was drafted in two sports. He was a first-round pick (#14 overall) of the Philadelphia Eagles, and a fourth-round pick (#42 overall) of the Minneapolis Lakers. He initially chose the Lakers, playing for their then-GM, a spry young man named Sid Hartman. Yes, that Sid Hartman.
Grant played professional basketball for two seasons, in 1951 and 1952. He then decided he’d give football a try, signing with the Eagles to play the 1951 season. He started out as a defensive end, leading the Eagles in sacks in his first season with the team. After that, he casually made the switch to wide receiver and was second in the NFL in receiving yardage. But, after the 1952 seasons, the Eagles refused to pay Grant what he thought he was worth, and he made his way north of the border to the Canadian Football League and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He was a three-time Western Conference All-Star in his four years as a player with the Blue Bombers.
Then, in 1957, at the ripe old age of 30, Bud Grant became the coach of the Blue Bombers. As the team’s coach, he led them to four Grey Cup titles in five years, winning the title in 1958, 1959, 1961, and 1962. In 1961, a man named Max Winter approached Grant and asked him about becoming the first coach in the history of a new NFL expansion team, the Minnesota Vikings. However, Grant refused those offers, and stayed as the Blue Bombers’ head coach until 1966. Norm van Brocklin got the job as the Vikings’ first coach, but Winter eventually lured Grant to the Twin Cities, with Coach Grant taking over as the leader of the Vikings in 1967.
Grant served as the coach of the Vikings for 17 seasons, from 1967 to 1983. He then announced his retirement, but after Les Steckel led the team to an awful 3-13 record in 1984, Grant came back to the team in 1985. He then retired for good, turning the reins over to his former offensive coordinator, Jerry Burns. He finished his NFL coaching career with an overall record of 168-108-5, and led the Vikings to the 1969 NFL Championship as well as four Super Bowls (Super Bowl IV, VIII, IX, and XI). Yes, the Vikings didn’t win any of those Super Bowls, but that shouldn’t diminish the accomplishments that Bud Grant had as a head coach in the NFL.
With the exception of the 1985 season, yours truly basically missed the Bud Grant era in Minnesota, so I don’t have any particular memories of Coach Grant. However, I know that he pretty much put this team on the NFL map and that he’s responsible for bringing in a lot of the older fans to our fanbase.
Happy 90th birthday, Coach Grant! Here’s hoping that it’s a great one.