The legendary Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant sadly passed away on Saturday morning at ninety-five. Grant was the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from 1967 to 1983, then again in 1985, making four Super Bowl appearances and leading his team to a record of 158-96-5. Grant also won eleven NFC Central titles from 1968 to 1978.
Before his professional coaching career, Grant was an exceptional student-athlete at the University of Minnesota. He was an All-Big Ten honor twice and lettering in football, basketball, and baseball three times each. He was drafted by the NBA and NFL and played for the Minneapolis Lakers for two years when he won an NBA championship in 1950.
In 1951, Grant joined the Philadelphia Eagles, playing defensive end before switching to wide receiver the following year and making 56 receptions for 997 yards and seven touchdowns. However, after a contract dispute took him to the Canadian Football League (CFL), Grant joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, leading them to four Grey Cup wins and being selected as a Western Conference All-Star three times in four seasons.
On the back of his CFL success, Grant was appointed head coach of a Minnesota Vikings team that had not made the playoffs in the seven years prior. Grant transformed the team into a powerhouse within only three years, taking them to the playoffs two years later and then to the Super Bowl the season after.
Grant’s teams were notorious for their defensive strength, particularly the ‘Purple People Eaters’ (Gary Larsen, Alan Page, Carl Eller, and Jim Marshall). From 1969 to 1976, the Minnesota Vikings were placed first, second, or third in the fewest points allowed every year except one.
Unfortunately, Grant’s teams never won the Lombardi Trophy, losing all four Super Bowl appearances. Nonetheless, he still managed to turn a struggling franchise into a successful team in a short period of time.
Grant continued to work with the Vikings in a consultancy role even after his retirement, maintaining an office at the team’s facility. He was still actively involved with the team as recently as the 2022 season when they finished 13-4 and won an NFC North title with first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell. Grant was married to Pat, with whom he had six children.