The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will honor Bud Grant by putting up a statue in his honor outside of Investors Group Field on Thursday, per Sid Hartman.
Grant, who took over the Blue Bombers at the age of 29, coached the Canadian team from 1957-1966, dominating the Canadian Football League by winning four Grey Cup championships and going on to win 290 games in the CFL and NFL.
Here’s what the CFL Hall of Fame has to say about him:
Harry (Bud) Grant was an excellent offensive end who was the Western Division leading pass receiver three of the four years he played with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He was selected All-Western from 1953, 1954, and 1956.
In a 1953 playoff game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Grant intercepted five passes.
During his ten seasons as head coach with Winnipeg, Grant led them to 122 wins, 67 losses and 3 ties for a winning average of 64 percent. Winnipeg appeared in the playoffs eight times and advanced to the Grey Cup six times. Winnipeg won the Grey Cup in 1958, 1959, 1961, and 1962, each time over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
UPDATE: Here it is, courtesy WinnipegBlueBombers.com
Bud Grant is the greatest coach in Vikings history, and is the only coach to be in both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. He was a pro in two sports and three leagues (and played an additional sport in college, baseball, where he lettered), having been drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers and the Philadelphia Eagles. He initially chose basketball and was a member of the Lakers’ 1949-50 championship team, but didn’t stay with the team, choosing to pursue his career with the Eagles as an end, instead—and back then, he was both an offensive and defensive end, which for the NFL in the 1950s meant he caught passes on offense and prevented passes on defense.
In his second year with the Eagles, he ranked second in receiving yards with 997, but didn’t receive any honors. He left for the CFL, where was a receiver in the for four years, one of the best in the league, before being offered the head coaching position with Winnipeg. They went to the Grey Cup six times with him, and won four. He came back to Minnesota to take over a team that hadn’t been to the playoffs since its inception (under coach Norm Van Brocklin) and only finished above .500 once.
After a 3-8-3 “rookie” season as a head coach, he led the Vikings to a divisional championship and then a dynasty.
There are interesting statistical quirks to his career, including the fact that the 1969 Vikings were the best defense in NFL history (though snubbed in most lists because they weren’t post-merger)—though Football Outsiders estimates the ’69 Vikings were just below the 1991 Philadelphia Eagles in their DVOA metrics. Even advanced statistics about adjusted net yards per attempt and value over average justify the claim, though teams like the 2000 Ravens, 1985 Chicago Bears and 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (and we’ll likely see the 2013 Seattle Seahawks on the list, too) tend to grab the headlines. That year, he was the NFL’s head coach of the year.
An interesting result of that is that Bud Grant ranks third in the Billick Index, which measures how few touchdowns are scored in games played by that coach—he’s just behind Bill Cowher (’70s Steelers) and Brian Billick (’00s Ravens). He ranks 13th (of 154) in the Dungy Index, which measures how well coaches avoid regression.
That all ignores the reality of his coaching, which was among the league’s best. His record with the Vikings was 158-96-5, or .622. Only two coaches with at least five years of experience who played in the same era had a better record: John Madden, who has the best coaching record in NFL history (excluding player-coach Guy Chamberlin in the 1920s) and George Allen.
Of non-active head coaches, he ranks fifth all-time in percentage of years his teams made the playoffs (66.7 percent) despite starting off his career with a clunker and ending it by unretiring and taking over for one of the worst teams in NFL history. He is behind Tony Dungy, John Madden, Mike Holmgren and Bill Walsh.
Sid Hartman ends his piece by telling the Vikings they should do the same as the Blue Bombers and honor him with a statue outside of the new stadium. I would not mind that one bit.
Let’s finish with Paul Krause on Bud:
Bud Grant knew how to pick people. A lot of teams will just gather players, and they wind up with some who don’t fit what the coach wants. Bud knew what kind of player he wanted at all times. And there wasn’t any confusion. He told you how it was, what you were going to do and how he wanted you to perform. If you couldn’t handle that, you were gone.
When I first came to Minnesota from the Redskins [in 1968], he didn’t talk to me for the first couple days I was there. That’s because he knew what I could and couldn’t do, which was good enough for him. That’s the thing about Bud. He could tolerate a player missing a tackle or making some other kind of physical mistake. But he hated mental mistakes.
In fact, he would rather play a guy with lesser talent who would do what he was supposed to do than somebody who would screw up.
But Bud also knew how to enjoy life. He would go hunting with the guys. When we went to training camp, we’d have bocce ball tournaments, and he would be my teammate. I know he liked that because he made good money with me as his partner. But that’s also one more example of how football wasn’t everything for Bud. It was about building a person and having a family.
We were very close in those years, and we had great football teams. I played 12 seasons for the Vikings, and we won the Central Division 10 times. Yes, we went to four Super Bowls and got beat, but that’s life. Bud taught you that losing those games wasn’t the end of the world. And I played against a lot of guys in my career who all said the same thing: “I would’ve loved to have played for your coach.”