Vikings Pay Homage to Their GOAT

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The Minnesota Vikings might not be as old as some other NFL franchises, but through 62 years of existence, they have built quite the history. Some great players suited up in purple and gold — wideouts Randy Moss and Cris Carter, quarterback Fran Tarkenton, and defensive linemen Jim Marshall, Alan Page, and Carl Eller from the Purple People Eaters. Ron Yary, Mick Tingelhoff and Randall McDaniel are Hall of Famer blockers.

Vikings Pay Homage to Their GOAT

pay homage
Dec 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant blows a whistle during the closing ceremony following the game against the Detroit Lions at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Lions 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

No matter how many Vikings legends are listed, none of them embodies the franchise like one man: Harry Peter “Bud” Grant Jr. The Hall of Fame head coach took a struggling expansion team and formed them into a powerhouse. He passed away on March 11th at age 95, but his impact will forever live on as long as the Vikings play football.

His organization will pay tribute to their greatest ever, as they will wear a jersey patch with his signature in Week 1 opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a helmet decal for the full 2023 season.

Even sweeter is that the Vikings will wear their new throwback jerseys, based on Grant’s era jerseys. The Vikings also shared this wonderful video.

Grant’s story is fascinating. He was born in Superior, Wisconsin, in 1927. His mom called her son “Buddy Boy,” that’s why he is now known as Bud. Diagnosed with the scary disease polio, a doctor suggested that Bud start participating in sports. An athletic kid, despite having polio, Grant began to play baseball, football, and basketball.

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Aug 6, 1983; London, ENGLAND; FILE PHOTO; St. Louis Cardinals head coach Jim Hanifan (right) and Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant talk prior to the inaugural NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Herb Weitman-USA TODAY Sports.

He starred in all three sports during his high school days, earning an offer from the University of Wisconsin. After graduating in 1945, Grant wanted to do his part to win the war and enlist in the Navy, but he didn’t have much of a Navy life as he played on eventual Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown’s football team at Great Lakes. He also played basketball but not baseball because of the complaints of families of those who were overseas while he spent his time at home playing sports.

When the war was over, Grant wanted to leave the Navy and used the offer from Wisconsin as a reason to get out. However, he attended the University of Minnesota because they allowed him to continue to play three sports – he continued to star in all three.

After leaving Minnesota, he joined the local professional basketball team, the Minneapolis Lakers. As an excellent defender who could get the ball to star player and face of the league, George Mikan, he had a significant role in the championship team in 1950.

Jan 11, 1970; New Orleans, LA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant visits with commissioner Pete Rozelle prior to the game against the Kansas City Chiefs for Super Bowl IV at Tulane Stadium. The Chiefs defeated the Vikings 23-7. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

But Grant didn’t want to play basketball as a role player. The good news was that the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him in the first round, and he could join them after two years of professional basketball. Playing as a defensive end, Grant led the team in sacks. After telling the team that he was a better receiver than the guys they had, he was moved to receiver and recorded 997 yards and 7 touchdowns in his second NFL season. The yards ranked him second in the league.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers from the CFL were interested in him, and he was the first player to play out his option to leave an NFL team after a lengthy contract dispute. The Eagles rejected his demands to be paid more than less productive players. He joined the Canadian Football League after two seasons with the Eagles.

The CFL paid good money back then and is not comparable to the league now. Grant was a star player and enjoyed his time in Canada. In the offseason, he would return to Minnesota with his wife and six kids. Of course, Grant loved to hunt, which was his favorite thing to do besides sports.

NFL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive
Dec 29, 1974; Bloomington, MN, USA; FILE PHOTO; Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant (headset) on the sidelines against the Los Angeles Rams during NFC Championship game at Metropolitan Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Rams 14-10. Mandatory Credit: Dick Raphael-USA TODAY Sports.

At age 29, Grant was approached by Winnipeg’s management to become the head coach. Grant refused the three-year contract and wanted a one-year deal instead to have the option to return to playing football if he realized coaching wasn’t his thing. But that never happened.

Grant won four championships in Canada. He was happy in the CFL and even rejected the offer to coach the expansion Vikings with the addition that he wanted to be contacted when the Vikings were looking for a coach again.

That happened after the dismissal of Norm Van Brocklin in 1967. Grant took over, and the rest is history. His NFL record was 158-96-5, and he won 11 division titles, with four trips to the Super Bowl and an NFL Championship in 1969 before the merger. In 1994, Grant was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Nobody will ever be a Viking quite like him.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt