Hall of Fame Vikings coach Grant dies at age 95
Bud Grant, the Hall of Fame coach who led the Minnesota Vikings to four Super Bowl appearances, has died at the age of 95, the Vikings announced Saturday.
In Grant’s 28 seasons as a head coach in Canada and with the Vikings, his teams reached the playoffs 20 times, played in 10 championship games and won four titles. However, none of those titles came in the NFL, as he became the first coach to lose four Super Bowls.
Grant was the first person to be inducted into both the CFL Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had a career regular-season record of 158-96-5 in the NFL and 102-56-2 in the CFL and went a combined 26-20-1 in the postseason between the two leagues.
Born Harry Peter Grant Jr., Grant joined the Navy during World War II after graduating from high school in Superior, Wisconsin. At Naval Station Great Lakes near Chicago, Grant played on a football team coached by Paul Brown, who would become one of the NFL’s greatest coaches.
Grant later attended Minnesota, where he won nine letters in three sports (football, basketball, baseball) before being drafted by the NBA’s Minneapolis Lakers and the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. He chose basketball at first and was a member of the Lakers’ 1949-50 championship team.
After two NBA seasons, during which he averaged 2.6 points per game, Grant changed sports and played both sides of the ball for two seasons with the Eagles. He caught 56 passes for 997 yards and seven touchdowns in 1952, then left to play for the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
He was one of the CFL’s top receivers for four seasons, making such an impression with his on-field adjustments that he was offered the head-coaching position in 1957. It was a smart move by the Blue Bombers, who would advance to six Grey Cups — winning four — in Grant’s 10 seasons as coach.
In 1967, the Vikings lured Grant back to Minnesota, where his calm demeanor and purple baseball cap would be a fixture on the sideline for 18 of the next 19 seasons. The Vikings hadn’t reached the playoffs and had finished above .500 only once since they joined the NFL in 1961. They went 3-8-3 in Grant’s first season — and then everything changed.
The Vikings went 8-6 in 1968 to win the division and make their first playoff appearance. In 1969, they won the NFL championship and advanced to Super Bowl IV, which they lost 23-7 to the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. It was the first of what would be many near misses for Grant.
Starting in 1973, the Vikings went to the Super Bowl three times in four years, but each time, they came up short. Minnesota reached the NFC Championship Game in 1977, but that turned out to be Grant’s last good chance. He took the Vikings to the playoffs two more times but never advanced beyond the second round again.
Grant retired after the 1983 season but made a one-year return in 1985 after the Vikings had gone 3-13 under Les Steckel. When Grant was finished for good, only seven coaches had won more games.
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