Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Presented by

Lunchbreak: Local and National Outlets Remember the Great Bud Grant

There will never be another Bud Grant.

The Vikings legendary coach and Minnesota icon sadly passed away Saturday morning at the age of 95. Memories and reflections have since been outpoured by friends, media members and the like.

Longtime Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse shared his thoughts on Grant and the indelible bond he shared with Sid Hartman and Jerry Burns, both of whom preceded Grant in death. Reusse wrote:

What strikes me today, and for years, is the bond that Bud, Burnsie and Sid managed to create, when the commonalities among them were close to nonexistent.

Bud and Burnsie had football, of course, but beyond that:

Bud was the stoic on the sideline and Burnsie was the emotionally crazed offensive coach in the press box. Bud would for the most part parse his words after a game, win or lose, and Burnsie would often talk so fast and emotionally that his point was unclear — although not when defending Bob Schnelker.

Bud loved hunting, fishing, nature and would go north for his recreation. Burnsie loved golf and went south when a season ended, all the way to his place in Jamaica until a hurricane took away the hangout there.

View photos of Vikings head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bud Grant.

Grant thought golfing was "ridiculous," noted Reusse, and Burns couldn't fathom why anyone would enjoy hunting during Minnesota winters.

Reusse shared a lighthearted story related to the beginning of Grant and Hartman's lifelong friendship.

The simple and calm logic that ran Bud's life was revealed whenever asked how he became so friendly with Sid, the reporter, as a Gopher in the late '40s:

"Sid had a car."

I did the typing for Sid's autobiography in 1997 and added a chapter for anecdotes from friends, sources and co-workers. They were wonderful, but none better than one from Bud:

Long before northbound Interstate 35, Bud and Sid were headed on the winding highway from the Twin Cities to Duluth and then Superior. It was New Year's Eve, and they were going to visit Bud's folks in Superior.

Sid's car blew a tire in the freezing dark outside Askov, Minnesota. Bud said he was 100-[percent] certain that the spare in Sid's trunk would be flat, which was the case.

In a search for help, Sid saw a light in the distance, went racing by foot and stuck himself in a snow-filled ditch. Asked where he was headed, Sid pointed toward the light.

"Long trip, Sid," Grant said. "That's the moon."

The trio of friends all lived long, full and successful lives – but that doesn't make their loss any easier, Reusse said.

Sid, Burnsie and now our great gray fox, steely eyed against the elements on the Bloomington prairie. All were 94-plus, so it's going to happen, but that's a lot of our sports uniqueness to lose in 2½ years.

View photos of Vikings Legend Bud Grant during his time with the team following his career as head coach.

Grant remembered by 'The New York Times'

The New York Times also honored Grant's memory through a thoughtful obituary written by Ken Belson Saturday.

"A genial man in private," Belson said, "Grant often appeared silent and aloof at work."

He went on to describe Grant as "wiry and svelte, with a prematurely gray flattop haircut" and an "air of an ascetic field general in an era when many coaches were known for their hard-driving and often histrionic personalities."

Belson described Grant's coaching successes both in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and later, of course, with the Vikings. Belson wrote:

His teams were led by the celebrated defensive line known as the Purple People Eaters, headed by Alan Page and Carl Eller, and by an offense that included quarterback Fran Tarkenton and running back Chuck Foreman. He was named [NFL Coach of the Year] in 1969 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994. He won 10 or more games seven times between the 1969 and 1976 seasons.

Grant was popular with his players because, unlike his contemporaries, he rarely yelled. "They start getting screamed at when they're in Little League," he said of his team. "The ones who make it this far are pretty good at turning it off."

Belson noted the outdoor practices and winter weather that Grant "used … to help create a home-field advantage" when the Vikings played at Metropolitan Stadium.

He often kept practices light so his players could save their physical and mental energy for games. Other coaches held two and sometimes three practices a day during training camp; Grant brought his team together a week later than most, and they rarely scrimmaged. If an older player looked tired, he might get a day off.

Grant's laissez-faire attitude extended to the regular season. He left the office in time to get home for dinner, anathema in a league filled with workaholic taskmasters. An avid hunter and fisherman from childhood, he would get up at 4 a.m., be in a duck blind 20 minutes later, stay until 7:30 or 7:45, then go to his office.

"A good coach needs a patient wife, a loyal dog and a great quarterback, but not necessarily in that order," Grant said in The New York Times in 1984. "I happen to have been blessed with all three, and when I did happen to have any extra time, I didn't spend it with the quarterback."

To read Belson's full write-up on Grant, click here.

Twitter tributes

Across Twitter over that past two days, former players, coaches and friends have shared their tributes for the late Grant.

From Vikings Legend Carl Eller, who played for Grant from 1967-78:

From Vikings Legend Chuck Foreman, who played for Grant from 1973-79:

From Vikings Legend Tommy Kramer, who played for Grant from 1977-83 and in 1985:

From Vikings Legend Keith Millard, whose rookie 1985 season was Grant's final at the Vikings helm:

From Vikings Legend Greg Coleman, who played for Grant from 1978-83 and in 1985:

From former Vikings Defensive Coordinator Tony Dungy:

From ESPN's Mike Greenberg:

From the Los Angeles Lakers, previously the Minneapolis Lakers, whom Grant helped win a championship:

From U.S. Senator and Minnesota native Amy Klobuchar:

From WCCO Radio's Chad Hartman, son of Sid: