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Several emailers sent in their thoughts, memories and appreciations for Bud Grant, who was memorialized in a private funeral service Saturday.
I was among those connected with the Vikings (Legends, current and former executives and staff) who were offered the opportunity to attend the service. Because it was a private service, I'm not going to relay anything from it, but I would like to say it was a very nice tribute, and I'd like to thank the generations of Grant family members who for sharing Bud with us at the Vikings, in Minnesota, throughout the North and beyond. The success of Grant's teams is part of why the Vikings have fans coast to coast and have reliably strong showings at road games.
There will be a public celebration for Bud in May at U.S. Bank Stadium (details TBD). In the meantime, Vikings.com has created a Bud Grant subsection of the website.
Colleague Lindsey Young, who put together the "Letters to Bud" content series, shared some beautiful anecdotes from the friendship she enjoyed with Bud.
Lindsey and I (and several others in the organization) spoke this week, and we'd like to do another run of "Letters to Bud" with your help.
Send your own Letter to Bud
In tribute to Bud Grant and his legacy, and in continuing the "Letters to Bud" theme, we invite fans to mail in letters sharing the impact Coach Grant had on your Vikings fandom, your personal life, your childhood and so on.
Letters received may be published through Vikings content platforms in a future special edition of "Letters to Bud." We also will pass along the letters to Coach Grant's family.
If you would like to participate, please send letters to the below address.
Lindsey Young, Vikings Entertainment Network
Re: Letters to Bud
2600 Vikings Circle
Eagan, MN 55121
Here are the links to the previous content series in case you'd like some inspiration (chapter explanations are on the left, and the Adobe Spark features are on the right).
We'll lead off the comments/questions section with some nice tributes to Coach Grant that we received through email and follow with some questions about the first week of 2023 free agency. We certainly appreciate what has been sent and look forward to the new "Letters to Bud" series.
I am the granddaughter of 103-year-old Isabelle Montgomery, who is a lifelong Vikings fan. She was one of the 60 Greatest Vikings Fans back when the Vikings celebrated this just prior to COVID-19. Isabelle was on the tribute board to those 60 fans located on the wall in the Vikings Museum.
Isabelle turned 103 years old on the day the Vikings lost the playoff game this January. We had a big birthday party the evening prior with a surprise visit from Tommy Kramer! Tommy spent a lot of time at the party with us. He brought her a jersey and signed it in front of her. I contacted Mike Max from WCCO that same weekend about her.
Mike did two stories on WCCO news about Isabelle. The first one was at her home to interview her. She told him, "I want a Super Bowl under my belt before I go up there…or down there." (her words!) She also said she wanted to shake Bud's hand before she died.
Mike then made her dream come true! He reached out to Bud and made it happen one month ago on February 10th at the Vikings Museum. Isabelle, myself, and six of her eight children met Bud and his partner Pat that day. It was more than a meeting. It was an afternoon of the two of them sharing old stories from the past, their love of football, card playing, and more while we all watched in awe. They were like good friends after the two hours they spent together. They also talked about how Bud had played baseball with Isabelle's brother back in the day in Osceola, Wisconsin.
I am so grateful for my grandma to have had that time with him before he passed. All of us had such a wonderful afternoon with both Bud and Pat that day. I documented the meeting well with many videos and photos. Mike Max captured it on video. He did a second WCCO story about her meeting Bud. It aired the following week.
In addition, Fran Tarkenton heard about Isabelle. Fran and Isabelle met on a Zoom call to talk about the past Vikings games. Grandma told him that she always remembers him scrambling around. Another exciting time for her.
We greatly appreciate Bud, his partner Pat, Mike Max, Tommy, Fran and Bob Hagan (he helped connect us with Bud and Fran) for making my grandma's birthday month so special. Lifelong memories for all of us. Bud was one special man. He will be greatly missed. Now let's go Vikings! Win a Super Bowl for Bud and Isabelle! SKOL!
— Julie Johnson
Love starting out with these experiences for Isabelle — happy belated birthday, by the way. It's pretty incredible to think about turning 103. Sorry the current Vikings could not deliver a win in the Wild Card for the cherry on top, but kudos to Tommy, Bud and Fran for continuing to share their Vikings legacies in celebration with fans, and thanks to Mike Max for spotlighting this.
I'm deeply biased — I prefer sincerely invested — in the Vikings Museum because Lindsey, Eric Smith and I spent so much of 2018 researching, fact-checking, writing and editing the text that accompanies artifacts. It's a space intended to be shared and enjoyed by generations of fans, where those who have lived through the experiences of what it means to be a Viking (fans certainly included in this descriptor) over the years to help pass along their affinity.
The current team's leadership and players want to fulfill the Super Bowl for Isabelle, Bud and so many others.
A few years back, I remember Bud speaking at a Vikings Ring of Honor ceremony and describing a Purple Thread stitched into every Vikings player. I think it extends to coaches, support staff, their families and fans, and when "someday" eventually happens, that thread will connect the present to the past.
View photos of Vikings head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bud Grant.
I grew up a Vikings fan in the 1970s. Bud Grant was the coach, and the Vikings won their division just about every year — 4 Super Bowls. It wasn't if the Vikings would be in the playoffs. It was how far they would get. We as fans took this great man for granted — no pun intended. What he accomplished on and off the field was amazing after his retirement. The benefit of having a man like this at the facility was priceless. And the way he always made himself available to the fans was awesome. There will never be another like him. God bless him. May he rest in peace.
— Kevin Brown
I'm 42 and was born in the same month as the Miracle at the Met, so I didn't really get to see/process anything from his time on the sidelines. During my interview prep for this job, it quickly became clear just how important Bud was to the Vikings and NFL, helping the league and sport transition from somewhat of an afterthought to be widely considered America's most enjoyed sport.
Upon joining the Vikings, I got to see that his impact on the team he loved so dearly never stopped. It was paused in 1984 after his first retirement, resumed for one more season on the sideline in 1985 and then continued through his role as a valued consultant. Stories told by players to me or to others have validated just how important he's been to the Vikings.
I'm laughing as a write this, but when seeing Bud was in the building, it made me do a mental self-check: 'Am I giving all I've got? What can I be doing better? How's my body language?' I've never asked any colleagues if they felt that way, too, but that's some influence, in my opinion.
Plus, I've heard stories from former players who made sure to get a haircut before they knew they were going to see him, and this was decades after taking the field for him.
I also have been able to see the professional relationship and friendship that Bud and Lindsey Young formed over the years, and how much encouragement he provided in her career development. She did not need that validation, but it was really neat to see.
View photos of Vikings Legend Bud Grant during his time with the team following his career as head coach.
No disrespect to Coach Grant. He is the Minnesota Vikings. His play-in-the-cold mentality was fantastic, but I was looking at the similarities between Bud and [Kevin] O'Connell. The physical similarities to me are eerie. They both have the same facial features. Is O'CONNELL the next Bud Grant, especially with his success his first season? In years to come, the rest of the story. Maybe I'm the only one that feels Bud and O'Connell could be father and son, just saying.
— Doug Szuberski
Bud played at 6-foot-3 and 199 pounds; O'Connell checked in at 6-5 and 225, so there was a bit of difference in dimensions, but I do think each has some distinguishing facial features with a bit of overlap. You can certainly point to having birthdays in May and the youthfulness of each at the times of their hiring (Bud was 39 for his first season with Minnesota; O'Connell was 37 last fall).
The early success of O'Connell in his first season was quite encouraging. He became the fastest coach in team history to record 10 wins and also set a record for most wins in a first season with Minnesota.
Bud went 3-8-3 in his first season — results that could prompt a firing in today's sports climate, but he set the foundation for the dynasty run that followed. He didn't have a losing season again until the 1979 Vikings went 7-9. All told, Grant went 158-96-5 in regular-season games and 10-12 in postseason contests.
O'Connell seemed to set his foundation well last year, and we'll find out more about that as he endures the yearly roster turnover that is part of today's NFL.
He also sincerely appreciated the time shared with Grant. It may have been half an hour each week during the season, but it proved to be so fulfilling.
I think we'll all — O'Connell included — can be grateful that the two men were able to get together so often last year.
First time writer. Enjoy reading your article every Monday morning.
With the passing of Bud Grant, what are the plans from the Vikings to remember him? I would love to see "Bud Grant Field at U.S. Bank Stadium" or a statue on the Plaza. Is there any plan for something on next year's uniform to remember him? He has had such a big influence on this organization, it would feel horrible not to honor him properly.
— Todd from Council Bluffs, Iowa
Thanks for reading and writing. Always love welcoming thoughts of "first-timers" into this community.
I certainly appreciate the goals of honoring Coach Grant's legacy in the best ways possible, and I believe there will be a firm commitment by the organization and community to do so. The Vikings will work with the Grant family to make sure their wishes are honored as best as possible, as well.
Plans are being discussed, so I don't want to speak ahead of those, but I guarantee we'll make more information available when we can.
In the meantime, we can start to look forward to the public celebration at U.S. Bank Stadium in May. Details will be shared once they are determined.
The Vikings and the City of Minneapolis worked together years ago to name a street near U.S. Bank Stadium "Bud Grant Way." It was before I had much winter clothing, and temps quickly dipped severely that "fall." My feet have never been colder, but I can still hear him telling the crowd (I'm paraphrasing) that being cold was more of a mindset than an actuality. He got me through that day, and walking by Bud Grant Way has been part of my game day for years.
I've been having difficulties wrapping my head around this thing NFL teams call a "contract" with their players for some time now that I hope you may be able to clarify. If a player signs a contract with a team to play for them, how can the team just cancel the contract and cut them? If I was a player heading into my latter playing years and a team offered me a nice three-year deal to entice me to stay with them, I would front load the contract because I most likely won't see the last year of the contract because all they have to do is cut me because of salary cap issues, and I'm out the money. I guess I see it as the teams have all the power in the contract and the players have very little if any. It's a business, and I get it, but if a team signs a contract, why don't they have to honor it? I'm sad to see [Adam] Thielen and [Eric] Kendricks get cut, but it's part of the game, and I wish them both the best.
Also, so long Bud Grant, RIP! You deserve every accolade bestowed upon you!
— Mark Borth in Idaho
A phrase you may have noticed frequently on Vikings.com has been "agreed to terms." It's a way we can go ahead and announce a player is on the way (or remaining here) before the contract is signed.
The terms part is important because it's what's mutually agreed upon by the player under guidance from his agent/representatives (unless the player does not have an agent) and the team, and it follows the parameters of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
I'm not an expert in contracts by any stretch of the imagination, but folks on both sides of deals are aware of what goes into the negotiations.
Very few NFL contracts have ever been fully guaranteed, so there's been a historical understanding that contracts can end before their initial end date. I also believe there's a growing trend among players to focus on guaranteed amounts.
The salary cap is a rule enforced by the NFL, which emphasizes parity. Some teams like the Vikings have spent near the max in multiple seasons; others have not come close to the limit.
I'm not trying to sound cold with this answer. I'm just trying to sum up the reality behind decisions. Even though tremendous relationships can be built with individual players, the people in charge of leading the team have a responsibility of trying to build the entire roster to be as strong as possible and fit within the salary cap.
I am SO confused. We are giving a TE (Josh Oliver) 10 million guaranteed and an edge rusher (Marcus Davenport) 13 million on a year deal?
What about Thielen or Kendricks, or [Patrick] Peterson?
Why not spend that money on our own guys? Davenport isn't very good and never lived up to the hype in New Orleans, but we're giving him the money?
I am truly baffled by these moves — seems like nonsense to me.
Barb — frustrated Skol Sister!
As I've said previously, I tremendously enjoyed covering Thielen and Kendricks for so long. I didn't mention Peterson in last week's Mailbag because he had not hit free agency, but he's another player that was so fun to cover. The on-field results, plus the demeanor during media interviews, were great. I can see why he's heading to the Pro Football Hall of Fame shortly after he is eligible. I'll miss those three guys considerably and know I'm not the only one. I wish them all well (Kendricks has signed with the Chargers; Peterson with the Steelers; Thielen agreed to terms Sunday with the Panthers).
The positions that Minnesota addressed with external free agents so far play different positions than Thielen or Kendricks. Minnesota signed cornerback Byron Murphy, Jr., as Peterson was leaving. Murphy has been mentored previously by Peterson.
I'd imagine there were eyebrows raised when Oliver's name came across the tickers of TVs or through social media alerts because a tight end who excels in blocking probably wasn't what most would identify as Minnesota's glaring need to improve on last season's results.
View photos of Vikings TE Josh Oliver during his first day at the TCO Performance Center with the team.
Oliver joined Minnesota on a three-year deal amid interest from other teams because his blocking sets him apart from many other players at the position, but when he was going through the pre-draft process, he was viewed more as a threat in the passing game who couldn't block. That tells me he worked really hard to round out his game, grew and developed.
I noted above the strong desire to reduce the number of negative runs in 2023 and make it so the Vikings are facing second-and-5 instead of second-and-12.
With Thielen's departure, the Vikings may want to run more sets with two or even three tight ends and they have that capability.
Davenport is an interesting scenario. A former first-round pick, he carded a career-best 9.0 sacks for the Saints in 2021. This past season, he finished with 0.5. As a rookie, he recorded 4.5 and followed with 6.0 in 2019 when he started all 13 games he played. In 2020, he moved back to a reserve role and finished with 1.5 sacks.
The Vikings clearly believe Davenport's sacks fluctuations don't tell the full story and that he can offer a higher upside on this one-year deal.
According to Next Gen Stats, Davenport's career QB pressure rate of 15.1 percent ranks fourth among 131 players with 1,000 or more pass-rush snaps since 2018, and he's generated a pressure rate of 13.9 or higher every season since 2018. Those are figures to keep an eye on because of new Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores' reputation as one who likes to apply pressure.
View photos of Vikings OLB Marcus Davenport who the team agreed to terms on March 15.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal listed Davenport at No. 17 overall in his ranking of the top 101 free agents and wrote the following:
"If Davenport had entered free agency after his 2021 season, when he had nine sacks, rather than playing 2022 with the Saints on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract, he would probably have been in the top 10. He creates production with incredible power, but his inability to stay on the field and finish plays showed up as a bad reminder in his contract year. You can't count on him for more than 500 snaps."
The Vikings leaned heavily on Za'Darius Smith (10 sacks) and Danielle Hunter (10.5) in their pass rush. They accounted for 56.6 percent of Minnesota's 38 sacks in 2022.
The Vikings leadership has changed since Minnesota signed Sheldon Richardson to a one-year, $8 million deal in 2018. He wound up providing such an impact on games that he garnered a three-year, $37 million contract from Cleveland the following spring. When that deal ended after two seasons, the Vikings brought Richardson back for one more at a rate of $3.6 million.
While the reported value on Davenport's contract is higher than Richardson's in 2018, the nature of the one-year contract provides Davenport a fresh opportunity and ideally enables the Vikings to pressure more quarterbacks more often in 2023.
I've read where it looks like the front office is planning for 2024-2025 to "compete" again. I know there are salary cap restraints, but winning 13 games, then releasing fan favorites like Kendricks and Thielen doesn't send a good message to the fans. I've been a fan of this team for over 30 years of my 45 years on this earth, and this "there's always next year" mentality is getting old. They want us to be patient while they build their team, so will they be patient if fans stopped going to games and buying merchandise? You can't take the fans hard earned money then tell us to be patient in fielding a team that we hope will finally bring us a Super Bowl title for the first time in over 60 years of existence. Don't mean to be long winded, but this gets frustrating year after year.
— Cory in Green Bay, Wisconsin
Cory, appreciate the support across the Border. I was able to catch multiple interviews with O'Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and haven't heard them once say they just hope to get through this year to finally break the streak/curse of not winning a Super Bowl in 2024. Last year, they both used the phrase "competitive rebuild" before Minnesota won 13 games and the NFC North. In their year-end press conference, they talked about establishing a "championship standard."
I'm not sure where you've read the scrapping 2023 narrative. I guess I did see some comments on social media about freeing up more cap space for 2024, but there was only so much cap space that could be cleared this year, and the contracts for Kendricks and Thielen were among the dollars that Minnesota needed to shed. I'm glad so many fans appreciated Kendricks and Thielen and what they've provided to the Vikings, but the contract amounts were going to create other roster limitations.
The Vikings have been pressed against the salary cap for several seasons. Not all teams have received that type of commitment from their owners. Just because Adofo-Mensah and leadership might be able to create more space in future years does not mean the Vikings don't want to defend the NFC North in 2023.
Minnesota has won 7+ games every season since 2014 and has reached that number in 16 of 21 seasons since the NFL realigned to eight, four-team divisions in 2002. Within the NFC North, the Packers have reached that threshold 18 times since 2002, the Bears 13 times and the Lions eight. Not saying that seven wins should be the goal, but I would say that is a decent metric for a team's ability to compete week-in and week-out. The caveat for being in that competitive range is not getting rewarded with high draft picks.
Ten or more wins usually secures a spot in the playoffs. After that, it could come down to whether the team is ascending and healthy.
View the best photos of Vikings RB Alexander Mattison from the 2022 season.
So glad to hear of the signing of [Alexander Mattison]. A workhorse and competitor of starter caliber in my opinion.
— Steve from Rochester
Mattison is one of several Vikings who have been with the team the past few years that Minnesota was able to retain. He briefly became eligible for free agency but is now back for a fifth season.
Coaches complimented Mattison for keeping the entire offense available when he was in the games in place of Dalvin Cook last season. Although his workload was reduced in terms of carries, from a career-high 134 in 2021 to a career-low 74 in 2022, his five rushing touchdowns were a personal best. Next season will provide him an opportunity to take another step forward in the offense like most Vikings who will be in their second season in this system.
He will still only be 25 when 2023 starts, despite having four NFL seasons under his belt.
The Vikings intend to boost their run game in 2023 by reducing the number of plays that resulted in losses. Oliver's signing should help.
We have heard nary a whisper about Duke Shelley. As he had such a good year with the Vikes last year, wouldn't we do well to sign him up?
— Paul Ryals, Stanchfield, Minnesota
I'm seeing quite a few campaigns on social media encouraging the outcome of Shelley returning.
Shelley seemed to play bigger than his 5-foot-9, 176-pound frame multiple times after a run of injuries to teammates pressed him into duty.
The Vikings were able to sign him to their practice squad after he was waived by the Bears during roster cuts. When Chicago exposed him to waivers last September, he went unclaimed by any team before Minnesota deftly added him to the practice squad.
It was fun to see Shelley record his first career interception in Week 18 at Chicago. He totaled a career-high eight passes defensed in 11 games.
I'm honestly unsure of the Vikings position on Shelley, but I do know that there are only so many discussions that can happen at once and Minnesota's leadership has been active with renegotiations, recruitment of incoming free agents and retainment of several players.
Thanks for being here to share in our Viking thoughts. What do you think of the Vikings putting an offer to the Ravens to trade Cousins for Lamar Jackson. Offer Cousins and our 2023 first-round selection. Sign Jackson to a $240 million contract fully guaranteed for six years. This would also give Baltimore a quarterback who never misses a game due to injury for at least the next three years. Jackson is still only 26 and would solidify the Vikings quarterback for the next at least 10 years.
— Rodger from Sacramento
Gonna provide a brief summary of the Jackson situation since it's not too common.
The Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson on March 7.
That means he's able to negotiate with other teams in free agency. If he receives an offer sheet from another team, the Ravens have five days to decide to match or not. If a team did acquire Jackson, the Ravens would be entitled to "draft-choice compensation equivalent two first-round picks."
Would Baltimore consider Cousins and a first-round pick to be the equivalent of what it could get?
I remember the consternation by some when Cousins signed a three-year fully guaranteed contract for $84 million in 2018.
We haven't seen many fully guaranteed contracts for as many years at Rodger suggests. The deal that the Browns did with Deshaun Watson last year has changed some conversations, but we don't know if that's going to become the trend.
I get that Jackson is a 2019 NFL MVP, but he's also missed five games in each of the past two seasons. He's rushed 727 times, racking up at least 695 yards in each of his five pro seasons, and has a career average of 6.1 yards per rush.
Cousins is entering the final year of his current contract with the Vikings. The parties agreed to move some money around this year and provide some cap flexibility for 2023. All indications so far are that both parties will let this season play out and then revisit.