I want to preface this by saying that if you’re not reading the (already) outstanding Letters to Bud series that Lindsey Young is putting together on the Vikings’ official website, you’re missing out. There’s already been some really good stuff in there, including this gem from today.
Many fans of the Minnesota Vikings remember that legendary coach Bud Grant retired following the 1983 season. He then came back to the Vikings for the 1985 season after the Les Steckel disaster of 1984. In 1984, Grant received a letter from a former President of the United States, proclaiming himself to be an NFL fan and a “Bud Grant” fan.
Richard Nixon, who was forced to resign from the Presidency in 1974, wrote Grant a fan letter in January of 1984. While some of the letter praised Coach Grant’s dedication to sportsmanship and his coolness under pressure, there was one particular sentence in the final paragraph that may. . .and I stress may. . .have influenced his decision to come back to the Vikings for one more season.
The story indicated that you had no plans to coach again. I hope that after a year or so, you will change your mind.
Now, personally, I don’t know the full genesis behind Coach Grant’s reasoning to come back to the sidelines for one more year before passing the torch to his long-time offensive coordinator, Jerry Burns. I’m sure there have been interviews or articles that have mentioned it in the past, and maybe the letter from the nation’s 37th President played a role in his decision.
Whether it did or not, it’s still kind of nice that a national figure recognized just how great a coach Bud Grant was and that the National Football League was clearly a better league with him on the sidelines.