Twin Cities legend Bud Grant has died, after an extraordinary 95 years.
Born in 1927, Harry “Bud” Grant played football, basketball, and baseball at his Wisconsin high school. He played all three sports at the University of Minnesota as well, earning nine varsity letters. He garnered all-Big Ten honors in football twice, under head coach Bernie Bierman. After graduation, Grant was drafted by the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles as well as the NBA’s Minneapolis (later Los Angeles) Lakers. The Lakers general manager at the time was Grant’s good friend Sid Hartman. (Hartman went on to become a legend of Minneapolis sports reporting, covering Twin Cities teams nearly until his death in 2020 at 100 years old).
He played two seasons with the Lakers, followed by two with the Eagles, before a four-year stint with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. In 1953, Grant set a pro football record that still stands, snagging five interceptions in a playoff game. The Bombers installed a statue of him at their stadium in 2014.
In 1957, Bud Grant became the head coach of the Bombers, a position he would hold for ten seasons. In those ten years, the team won four Grey Cups; Grant earned CFL Coach of the Year honors in 1965. He was lured back to the Twin Cities in 1967 to coach the Minnesota Vikings. The team made its first playoff appearance in 1968, and qualified for the championship a year later, losing Super Bowl IV to the Kansas City Chiefs. Grant led the Vikings and the Purple People Eaters defense to appearances in Super Bowls VIII, IX, and XI as well. He retired in 1983, after a .500 season, returning for the 1985 season before retiring for good. In 18 seasons at the helm, he finished with a record of 158-96-5.
Bud Grant became an outspoken advocate for environmental conservation causes in retirement while continuing to work as a consultant for the Vikings. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
Photo Courtesy: University of Minnesota athletics