Friday, November 27, 2015

bud grant

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If you’ve ever strapped on a helmet and shoulder pads, you know how violent football can be. From pancake blocks to open field collisions, its a sport that requires a certain toughness, and honestly, a certain level of recklessness. This is especially true for offensive and defensive linemen, who repeatedly crash headfirst into one another like trucks in a demolition derby.

In today’s league, the passing game and up-tempo offense are at a premium, but that doesn’t make the action in the trenches any less violent. Pull up any highlight reel on Youtube, try to ignore the flashy skill players, and fix your eyes on the battle of the “big uglies” — they punch,  dive, drive, and rip while slamming into a wall of muscle and aggression.

And this doesn’t happen once; it happens every single play.

With all that violence, it’s highly unlikely a player lines up for every offensive snap. Injuries are a part of the game, and they have a nasty habit of ruining single plays, multiple seasons, or even careers.

What if I told you one player never missed a game in 17 seasons? And what if I told you he was a Minnesota Viking? Better yet, what if I told you he was a seven-time All Pro at one of the toughest positions in all of football?

Meet Mick Tingelhoff, former Minnesota Vikings center and a 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee.

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Lindsey Young with Bud Grant

If you have been reading Vikings Territory over the last couple years, then you are surely aware that our own Lindsey Young is an incredibly talented writer that seems destined for the big time. I said exactly that, in a lot more words, back in April when I turned the tables and featured her in her own “Fan Spotlight” segment.

Since then, Lindsey has continued her great work here at VT, including an incredible interview with the greatest Minnesota Viking of all time, Bud Grant. For the last few weeks, however, the team that keeps this place running has been enthusiastically celebrating the fact that somebody else has noticed Lindsey’s work which has led her to a great opportunity.

Before we get too much farther explaining Lindsey’s great news, I do want to make it clear that she still plans to be a regular contributor here at VT, which makes this whole thing that much better.

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    The Vikings legend shares about the Purple People Eaters, outdoor practices, and his best friend Sid.

    Bud Grant Interview
    Blue jeans. One leg crossed over the other. He’s wearing a casual button-down shirt, tan and camo, and he proudly displays two baseball caps within reach. One—Vikings purple—covers silver-white hair, while the other—Winnipeg blue—sits near a can of Tab soda on the card table.

    He’s manning a garage sale, carefully counting out dollar bills and quarters, and it all seems rather ordinary… except he also signs autographs for the visitors.  “Bud Grant. HOF ’94,” he writes. Over and over again. On a worn leather football. The rod of a fishing pole. An old game program.

    Harry “Bud” Grant will forever be known as one of the top coaches in NFL history, and many remember him as the straight-faced coach who soldiered the sidelines and held players to an exceptionally high standard of conduct.

    “I wasn’t that tough,” Grant tells me. “I don’t think so. I suppose you’d have to ask the other players or coaches – I can’t answer that question. We had rules, but it was an easy job, really.”

    He breaks his signature stoic expression for a split second, just long enough for me to question his sincerity. I prod a bit, ask him about the no-heaters rule he implemented during winter games.

    “We had no indoor practice facilities in those days. We had to practice outside, so why not play outside?” He answers matter-of-factly. “We became acclimated, learned to play with no gloves, no heater, no underwear […] so Sunday was easy for us. It was tougher for other teams that wanted to come in and wanted to be warm. We were cold, but we still played.”

    For Grant, it’s all about practicality.

    Case in point, you may not know that the former coach stands alone as the only man to ever play in both the NBA and the NFL. In fact, Grant won the first championship in NBA history with the Minneapolis Lakers. He left the Lakers, however, to join the Philadelphia Eagles as a defensive end. The decision proved a no-brainer.

    “The bottom line was that I could make more money playing football than I could playing basketball,” he explains.

    Grant viewed sports—playing or coaching—as just a job, a way to make one’s living, not concerning himself with the spotlight or the fame. For an icon like Grant, media requests are not uncommon, although he says they now come very few and far between. League reps and cable stations hounded the coach for appearances shortly after his career, asking him to audition for game-day commentary and halftime interviews.

    “I figured out it would be like 24 road trips,” he says, scoffing. “I’m out of this to stay home, not to get on the road again. My ego didn’t need it.”

    Eventually, people just stopped trying.

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    Photo Credit: Lindsey Young - Modified

    Intrepid reporter Lindsey Young (@LindseyMNSports) rejoins the show to talk Vikings OTAs, the latest Adrian drama (he’s gonna retire now? Dohkay), as well as her latest interviews with former Vikings head coach and garage sale legend Bud Grant, Polish phenom Babatunde Aiyegbusi, and superstar Andy Carlson!

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    The Hall of Fame selection process and enshrinement festivities is just another great way in which the NFL keeps us all paying attention on a year-round basis, even during the quietest of quiet periods of the offseason.

    With Mick Tingelhoff officially selected to the Hall of Fame, I got to wondering who could possibly end up being the next Viking to get in. Then I had a hunch that this could end up being a greatly debated topic and figured you guys might like to hash it out in the comments section this week.

    For starters, let’s review the purple fellows that have already made it to Canton:

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