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Vikings Hire of Bud Grant Reaches Golden Anniversary

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

Fifty years ago today, Minnesota entered a new era of Vikings football.

The Minnesota Vikings on March 10, 1967, hired Bud Grant as the organization's second head coach.

Grant led Minnesota to the divisional round of the 1968 playoffs in just his second season at the helm of the Vikings ship. In 1969, the Vikings under Grant won the NFL Championship to appear in the first Super Bowl in franchise history. Minnesota fell to Kansas City in Super Bowl IV.

Over 18 seasons in Minnesota, Grant led the Vikings to four Super Bowls (IV, VIII, IX and XI), 11 Central Division titles and 12 playoff appearances. In 1976, Grant received NFL Coach of the Year honors. He coached the feared Purple People Eaters defense that featured defensive linemen Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Gary Larsen and Doug Sutherland. Offensive standouts under Grant included quarterback Fran Tarkenton, running back Bill Brown, and offensive linemen Ron Yary and Mick Tingelhoff.

When Grant retired – for the second time – following the 1985 season, his NFL regular-season coaching record was 158-96-5. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994 and remains with Minnesota as a consultant with an office at Winter Park. Page, Eller, Tarkenton, Yary and Tingelhoff are also enshrined in Canton.

While the Vikings were Grant's first and only NFL position, he was far from an inexperienced hire. Grant joined the Vikings following a successful head coaching career in the Canadian Football League for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Over 10 seasons, Grant led the Blue Bombers to four Grey Cup championships, appearing in the big game six times.

Prior to coaching, Grant built a reputation as a multi-sport athlete himself. Grant was a three-sport, nine-letterman athlete in football, basketball and baseball for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, where he earned All-Big Ten honors twice for football. Following college, he was drafted by both the NFL (Philadelphia Eagles) and the NBA. Grant played two seasons for the Lakers, during which he helped lead them to the 1950 NBA championship. He then transitioned to football and played for the Eagles from 1951-52 and the Blue Bombers from 1953-56.

Upon joining the Vikings in 1967, Grant received numerous letters of congratulations, support and votes of confidence. In a letter from Bernie Bierman sent three days after Grant's hiring, the former Gophers Head Coach typed the following:

You are in a tough league. Miracles cannot happen all at once … but I do believe you have a sound base to start building from. And I believe the general support coming from the public and the owners and administration will be solid.

*A fine opportunity, and a real challenge. You have proven your ability in the past, and I have real confidence that you will do a real job in this new situation for you. *

Reflecting back on the 50 years since Grant first took over the Purple and Gold, it's clear those who wrote to the Head Coach knew exactly what they were talking about.

View photos from the 1967 media guide and letters from teammates, coaches and friends congratulating him on being hired as head coach of the Vikings that yeat.

*Photos pictured in the gallery above include letters from former Golden Gophers guard (and Grant's teammate) John Lundin, former Gophers assistant coach Dal Ward, Grant's former junior high coach Phil Arlausky, Grant's friend and former teammate Andy Hamm and former Gophers basketball and football Head Coach Bernie Bierman. *

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