Back on March 11th, the Vikings family tragically lost legendary head coach Bud Grant at the age of 95. On Sunday, the team hosted a celebration of life that was free to the public for all Vikings fans who wanted to come to US Bank Stadium. and celebrate the coach and the man who not only started a long history of success in Minnesota, but also perfectly embodied the culture of the state.
Grant took over the Vikings’ head coaching gig in 1967, six years after the franchise was founded, and almost immediately, he took an expansion team that had never made the playoffs and turned them into a perennial contender. In his second year as head coach, Grant led the Vikings to their first playoff appearance in 1968, going 8-6 and winning the NFL Central Division.
However, this was just the beginning for Grant. The Vikings made the playoffs in 10 of 11 seasons from 1968-78. Grant was the mastermind behind the Purple People Eaters defense that devastated the NFL during this period.
In his first 10 years as head coach, the Vikings finished outside the top 10 just once, finishing 11th in 1972. From 1969-71, they led the league in scoring defense, ridiculously holding the opposition to 10 points per game. both in 1969 and 1971.
The Vikings have made all four Super Bowl appearances during Grant’s coaching tenure, but unfortunately, a Super Bowl championship was the feat that the head coach was unable to unlock for Minnesota.
Overall, over 18 seasons, Grant’s Vikings went 168-108-5 overall (including the playoffs), and he easily holds the record for most wins by a franchise coach. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994. Grant’s tenure in Minnesota is one of the most impressive coaching tenures in professional sports history and will always be remembered as such.
On Sunday, a variety of Minnesota legends took the stage to reminisce about what Grant meant to them. One such individual was current head coach Kevin O’Connell, who took over just last offseason, leading the Vikings to a 13-4 record in 2022.
Speaking about Grant and what the relationship meant to him, albeit a short one, O’Connell said: because he is blessed to be the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.”
O’Connell wasn’t the only person who had very kind words for the legendary coach. Former Vikings quarterback Carl Eller and Grant’s former player were also in attendance posted a tweet saying, “Here to celebrate the amazing life of our coach. It’s a beautiful day to honor you, Bud.
Finally, Bud’s son Mike probably put it best when describing his father’s old hunting trips. Grant said: “I fondly remember him hunting deer last year and having breakfast at the Old Homestead Cafe, where he was as comfortable as if he were in some fancy restaurant. He chatted with many of the locals as if he were an old friend. I think in many ways he was really an old friend to all of you.”
Not only was he honored by the Minnesotans, he was also honored by Grant He was recognized as a national hero by the US Senate during the event. Mike Grant joked while receiving the award. “My father would have looked at this and said: “How much could I get for it at a garage sale?”
To many Minnesotans, Grant was truly more than just a football coach. His personality and demeanor, such as insisting on wearing a short polo shirt no matter how bitterly cold the temperature, encapsulated the Minnesota toughness instilled in the Vikings during his tenure with the team. He was an incredible coach and man who will always be a cornerstone of the Minnesota Vikings franchise.
Josh Frey is a 2020 graduate of the College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com.. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, playing or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account. @Freyed_Chicken.