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Happy Independence Day from the Daily Norseman!

Let’s take a look at some of the Vikings’ history with Military involvement

Oakland Raiders v Minnesota Vikings
The legendary Bud Grant.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Happy Independence Day folks!

Like many in Minnesota, we hope you are having a great day out on a lake, by the grill, or watching some fireworks.

In honor of our country’s 247th birthday, let’s take a look at how some Vikings staff and players have either served or honored the men and women who have dedicated their lives to ensure America’s lasting freedom.

Bud Grant - Head Coach, 1967-1983, 1985

It is hardly up for debate that the late, great Bud Grant is the most legendary head coach In Vikings history. From the time he was hired on until his passing, Grant epitomized the best parts of being not only a Viking, but also a Minnesotan.

His on-field achievements spanned 4 Super Bowl appearances during his tenure, leading the likes of Fran Tarkenton, Joe Kapp, and Chuck Foreman as the winningest coach in Franchise history (158-96-5).

Grant was born just across the port from Duluth, in Superior, WI and was a proud 3-sport Golden Gopher.

After graduating from Superior High School in 1945, Grant enlisted in the US Navy and was assigned to the Treasure Island Naval Station in CA and the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Lake County, IL during WW2. Grant never saw combat due to the year he enlisted.

While in Illinois, Grant was coached by Lt. Paul Brown, who would end up co-founding and becoming the first head coach of the Cleveland Browns, named after Brown. It was under this coaching that Grant picked up many tools of the trade from Brown.

After his coaching career, Grant remained a heavily influential member of the Vikings organization as well as a prominent outdoor enthusiast and advocate for hunting and fishing.

In one of his most famous moments, an 88-year-old Grant would walk out to take the coin toss in -9 degree weather prior to the 2016 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks at TCF Bank stadium.

Grant was listed as a consultant for the Vikings up until his death last March. Grant was buried with full military honors.

Mike Priefer, Special Teams Coach, 2011-2018

Priefer, born in Cleveland in 1966, came to Minnesota after coaching stints (mainly in a special teams role) at the US Naval Academy (where he played QB and WR), Jacksonville, Kansas City, New York (Giants), and Denver.

Although his tenure as the Special Teams Coach was not without incident, Priefer was named the Special Teams Coach of the Year in 2012 as voted by his counterparts (helped by the rookie success of kicker Blair Walsh).

Due to the sudden nature of an emergency eye surgery for then-head coach Mike Zimmer, Priefer was named as acting head coach for a 17-15 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in week 13 of that season.

Priefer served in the US Navy as a helicopter pilot during the wind-down of Operation Desert Storm from 1990-94. It was an experience that heavily influenced his approach to coaching.

Jared Allen, DE, 2012

While Allen never served in the armed forces, during and following his career Allen was one of the modern NFL’s leading voices in recognition for veterans. A large part of that advocacy was shaped by a joint NFL-USO tour of US Armed Forces bases in the Persian Gulf in 2009. Allen would go on to do multiple USO tours to the Middle East.

Allen’s grandfather served in Korea and Vietnam in a 23-year long military career. Allen also had brothers and uncles serve, including an uncle who was with the Air Force for 34 years.

“My little brother just joined the Marines, so I want to go over there and check it out before he does,” Allen said to the Pioneer Press in 2015. “Just trying to be a good big brother.”

Even though he had an interest in doing so before the tour, in 2009 Allen ramped up his advocacy for disabled veterans by starting the Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors foundation, which has the goal of making accessibility improvements and building houses for veterans with disabilities.

Visit to learn more about Allen’s efforts.

Allen was formally inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor last season on October 22nd, 2022. As a part of his retirement, he signed a one-day contract with the team to retire as a Viking.

Ben Kotwica, Special Teams Coordinator, 2022

Last season Special Teams Coordinator Ben Kotwica continued a lengthy NFL coaching career with the Vikings, his only year with the team. Kotwica also coached for the New York Jets, Washington Commanders, Atlanta Falcons, and is currently with the Denver Broncos.

Kotwica graduated from West Point, and is a decorated officer who spent eight years in the U.S. Army. His service included operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Korea, and Iraq. Kotwica was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Aviation Branch of the Army and was selected to fly the legendary AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopter. Kotwica was an Attack Helicopter Platoon Leader in support of the 82nd Airborne Division from 1998 to 2001.

Kotwica was the Vikings’ Salute to Service nominee last season.

Andre Carter II, EDGE, 2023

While Army’s Carter II has yet to be named to the 53-man roster, the Vikings are so confident in his ability that he was given a lucrative Undrafted Free-Agent deal of $40,000 signing + $300,000 base salary guarantee last May, more guaranteed money than most 7th-round draft picks.

Carter II has been one of the top athletes that has been caught in the middle of the debate that centers around deferring service requirements until after a playing career. His understanding that he was able to defer his service until after his playing career led him to pass up on transfer offers from bigger schools.

Carter II had 15.5 sacks in 2021, more than anyone but Will Anderson, the #3 pick in the 2023 draft.

His draft stock fell due to the uncertainty of when he would have to serve in the Army. Before the NFL draft, Congress, as a small part of their spending bill, added language that forbade Armed Forces graduates from deferring service as it will be “a breach of agreement to serve as an officer,” per

Carter, among other athletes, successfully argued that they should be grandfathered in as he committed to his service in the armed forces before the change was made.

After going through what it took for Carter to sign with the Vikings, I for one have little doubt that he will use his work ethic and persistence to develop excellently for the Vikings and serve his country admirably after his career ends.