EAGAN, Minn. — Sid Hartman and Bud Grant — two Minnesota icons — have enjoyed interconnected lives since first crossing paths on the campus of the University of Minnesota in 1945.
Their paths that were close in proximity, then far, then close again, always have been marked by a sincere friendship.
Now, they'll share a connection inside Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, the Vikings sparkling, modern headquarters that celebrated its ribbon-cutting on Friday.
The Vikings made sure to include a permanent office for Grant inside TCO Performance Center, and the Hall of Fame coach is regularly at the facility — except when the ducks are calling — enjoying the retro-styling of his space and continued relationship with the club as a consultant more than 30 years after hanging up his coach's whistle.
Hartman, 98, covered the Vikings offseason program this week and was back at the building Friday when the team dedicated the Sid Hartman Interview Room on the media level.
Grant, Goodell and Vikings Owners Mark Wilf and Zygi Wilf spoke as part of the dedication, which was also attended by Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
"It's great to be here with an old friend," said Grant before quipping, "The older we get, the better we were. I've got more accolades now than I ever did before."
Grant, who turned 91 last month, said he was pleased to see the recognition for Hartman.
"Sid and I go back a long way," Grant said. "We've been down the road together, and now our roads come together again, Sid, in this great facility.
"Thank you to the Vikings for allowing me to have an office because if you don't have any place to go, life isn't worth it," Grant added. "The Vikings have been very gracious. I have an office now, and Sid, you have joined me."
Goodell said Hartman has had an important impact on the Vikings and the NFL.
"Sid, I'm so happy to be here to be part of this special day because you're such a big part of the NFL," Goodell said. "Your integrity, your character, your values, the way you've done things, are an example for so many. You have meant so much to our league.
"You happen to be the same age as our league, which is a great thing, 98 years old," Goodell continued. "We're going to celebrate our 100th birthdays together in a couple of years, but I want you to know what an honor it is to have known you before I became Commissioner. You treated me the exact same way you do today, and you have been such an instrumental force not only for the Vikings but the NFL."
The Wilfs said that Hartman has played an instrumental role to their family since they became stewards of the franchise in 2005.
Mark Wilf said: "Sid is truly a legend and a national icon, having served sports fans in this market for more than 70 years. Sid wrote his first column for the Minneapolis Daily Times on Sept. 11, 1945."
Zygi Wilf added: "Given the significance of Sid's astonishing career and what he has meant to the Minnesota Vikings, today we are dedicating the Sid Hartman Interview Room at the TCO Performance Center media center.
"On a personal note, every time I see you, you remind me of how strong you are in this community," Zygi said. "Thank you so much for what you've done for this franchise and helping our family be part of the community. Thank you, Sid."
Hartman said he was "lost for words" from the dedication.
"I didn't expect anything like this," Hartman said. "It's unbelievable, but the Vikings have been a big part of my life. When there was a lot of talk about them moving, I fought the battle with a lot of other people [to] keep them here.
The legendary Sid Hartman recently took his first tour of the TCO Performance Center in Eagan.
"The Wilfs have been fantastic owners for this team," Hartman added. "The National Football League has been a good part of my life. … I want to thank everybody connected with the Wilfs. I want to thank Bob Hagan and Tom West, too, for always helping me in my coverage. They've been two great assets for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Hartman told Vikings.com that someone counted 22,000 bylines during his career and emphasized his appreciation to a caregiver named Lacey, who often accompanies Hartman at practices.
"I try and get along with everybody, but at the same time, when they deserve criticism, they get it," Hartman said of his approach. "The Viking operation has been unbelievable.
"Coach Grant calls me his best friend, and he's as good of a friend as I've got in this world," Hartman added. "He and I have been very close from the time he enrolled at the University of Minnesota, all through his Winnipeg days and then here."
Grant said "it's great to have a best friend."
"Sid, we've been together a long time, we've gone down many roads," Grant said, "and as one man can love another, I love Sid Hartman."