Vikings Franchise Cornerstone Passes Away

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Bud Grant coached for one NFL team and one team only, the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings icon passed away on Saturday at age 95, 70 days short of his 96th birthday.

The Vikings tweeted, “We are absolutely devastated to announce legendary Minnesota Vikings head coach and Hall of Famer Bud Grant has passed away this morning at age 95. We, like all Vikings and NFL fans, are shocked and saddened by this terrible news.”

Vikings Franchise Cornerstone Passes Away

Born in 1927, Grant took over the Vikings in 1967, six years after the team’s inception, and whisked a poor-to-average franchise to prominence.

Franchise Cornerstone
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The 19th-winningest coach in the history of professional football, Grant won 62.1% of games, a mark exactly equivalent to Joe Gibbs of Washington Commanders fame. From 1967 to 1985, the Vikings were 158-96-5 on Grant’s watch.

And the .621 win percentage ranks 29th all-time, ahead of Bill Walsh (.609), Tom Landry (.607), Bill Parcells (.569), Chuck Knoll (.558), Jimmy Johnson (.556), and Dick Vermeil (.524). Of course, the only thing missing from Grant’s resume — and the Vikings scorecard on the whole — is a Super Bowl triumph.

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Before becoming the Vikings boss, Grant coached the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 1957 to 1966, winning four Grey Cups and tabulating a 102–56–2 (.644) record. Seven years prior, Grant played basketball for the Minneapolis Lakers and even won a championship in the 1950 season. He seamlessly switched to football in 1951, playing for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1951 and 1952. He also played for the aforementioned Blue Bombers from 1953 to 1956 before taking the Blue Bombers head coaching job. The man did it all.

A Wisconsin native and University of Minnesota alumnus, Grant earned the title of NFL champion in 1969 when “winning the NFL” was merely a precursor to the Super Bowl. He was the NFL Coach of the Year in 1969, is in the Vikings Ring of Honor, and also won the CFL’s Coach of the Year in 1965.

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Grant oversaw the famous Purple People Eaters Vikings defense in the late 1960s and the entirety of the 1970s. He famously said about cold weather, “Being cold for a short period of time is not life-threatening. You can perform a task when you’re cold. We proved that when the Vikings played outside.”

He also said about the nature of football, “You have to remember one thing: Football is entertainment; it’s not life or death. Once the game is over, you’re already talking about next year and the draft. It’s just entertainment.”

In the six seasons preceding Grant’s arrival to the Vikings, Minnesota was the league’s sixth-worst franchise with a .369 win percentage. On his watch, that climbed to fifth-best (.632). When he was gone from the Vikings for good, the franchise became the ninth-best organization from 1986 to present with a .551 win percentage.

Bud Grant is the Minnesota Vikings.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by