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Paul Wiggin Presented Bud Grant Distinguished Minnesotan Award by NFF

Paul Wiggin
Paul Wiggin

EAGAN, Minn. — Paul Wiggin has been with the Vikings — and positively impacting football in Minnesota — since 1985.

His distinguished career is numerated with exceptional accomplishments, any of which alone would be something to celebrate.

A two-time All-America selection at Stanford, Wiggin was invited to participate in the 1956 East-West Shrine Game.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 1956 NFL Draft by Cleveland, Wiggin started 127 of the 146 regular-season games he played over the course of 11 seasons (1957-67). He teamed with the likes of Pro Football Hall of Fame fullback Jim Brown (1957-65) and future Viking Jim Marshall (1960).

View photos of Vikings Consultant, Paul Wiggin, being honored with the 2022 2022 Bud Grant Distinguished Minnesotan Award. Wiggin has been positively impacting football in Minnesota since 1985.

Wiggin immediately followed his playing career by becoming a defensive line coach for the 49ers (1968-74) before the Chiefs hired him as their head coach (1975-77). He followed that with two season as Saints defensive coordinator (1978-79) and four as the head coach at Stanford (1980-83), which included the heartbreak of "The Play" against Cal in 1982 and coaching John Elway on the quarterback's way to becoming the top pick in the 1983 NFL Draft.

After helping with the 1984 Summer Olympics, Wiggin was hired as Vikings defensive line coach by Hall of Famer Bud Grant, who was returning to the sidelines for a final season after previously retiring in 1983. Wiggin remained on Jerry Burns' staff for Burnsie's six seasons as head coach before transitioning to the personnel department in 1992.

Bud Grant Distinguished Minnesotan Award
Bud Grant Distinguished Minnesotan Award

Now 88, Wiggin remains a consultant for the Vikings, working at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

Last week, Wiggin was presented the trophy for being named the 2022 Bud Grant Distinguished Minnesotan Award by the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation.

After examining the classic, sizeable football figurine, he didn't have to get far on the inscription to fully appreciate the significance. It means so much to him, he said, because the award is named in honor of Grant, who also remains as a consultant with Minnesota.

"Going back to when I was a young coach, the word was, 'If you really want to be with a coach who respects you as an assistant coach, Bud Grant is your man. So if you ever get a chance to work with Bud Grant,' " Wiggin said. "I passed it up once, but I really was blessed to come here and be able to work with him. Just that one year was amazing."

Wiggin roomed that season with former Vikings defensive backs coach Pete Carroll, who has been head coach of the Seahawks since 2010, and "we were Bud Grant fans."

Todd Fultz, President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation, explained why Grant is the namesake and why Wiggin was such a fitting recipient for the highest award presented annually by the organization.

"Bud is such an NFL statesman, and Paul is such an NFL statesman, they're cut from the same cloth," Fultz said. "They share so many similarities, and those similarities have had a critical, positive impact on Minnesota football.

"Both of them are willing to be under the radar, not looking for all of the attention," Fultz added. "I think that's a great part about football, that they're willing to do their job, they're willing to be part of an organization and understand it's a complete team game and is not about me."

Bud Grant Distinguished Minnesotan Award
Bud Grant Distinguished Minnesotan Award

Fultz described Wiggin as having a "a powerful but calming presence, that you know he's important and has information or experiences that far exceed most of the people in the room, but you don't hear him flaunting them or raving about them."

"He had a great playing career, Pro Bowl and all those different things, and coaching players at the highest level," Fultz said. "I think the other thing is when he tells stories … you don't feel like he's name dropping or anything, but he starts naming off the people that were involved in the story, and they're all NFL legends. Paul Brown. The guys he played with, the NFL icons, just an amazing NFL career.

"We're humbled and honored to be able to recognize him because we are grateful for his contributions to Minnesota football," Fultz added.


While others of Wiggin's generation have retired and many have headed for warmer locales, the native of California's San Joaquin Valley keeps working in Minnesota.

"My wife absolutely loves the seasons and doesn't want to go to Florida. She wants to spend the winters here and all that. If you asked a whole room of people what they'd prefer, she'd stand alone in the corner," Wiggin said. "It does grow on you. You can't really say all of the things, but it does grow on you. I've told that to the coaches that have come here. It was so cold. I said, 'You wait, in a matter of time, you'll kind of appreciate being here.' "