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Bud Grant Special: Remembering the legendary Minnesota Vikings head coach

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Bud Grant Special: Remembering the legendary Minnesota Vikings head coach
Bud Grant Special: Remembering the legendary Minnesota Vikings head coach 07:29

MINNEAPOLIS -- He left his mark on football and on Minnesota.

Bud Grant, longtime Vikings head coach, died on the morning of March 4 at the age of 95. 

He was celebrated for his success on the field - taking the team to four Super Bowls - but he was perhaps better known outside of football for his resolute, stoic nature, and his never-ending words of wisdom.

Grant grew up during the Great Depression in Superior, Wisconsin, but found fame at the University of Minnesota, where he was a standout 3-sport athlete. After a stint playing professional basketball for the Minneapolis Lakers and football for the Philadelphia Eagles, he trekked up north to play for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, eventually becoming their coach.

His success there brought him back to Minnesota, where his challenge was not necessarily to get the Vikings to the top of the league, but to keep them there. During his tenure between 1967-1983 and again in 1985, Grant took the team to 11 NFC/NFL divisional championships.

Over the years, he became a confidant to basketball coach Bobby Knight and mentor to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, and even met Queen Elizabeth II. He was also focused on family, raising six children with his wife Pat, one of whom became the most successful high school coach in the state at Eden Prairie. 

Outside of football, he loved to hunt. His time outdoors became his post-coaching playground, and it kept him young.

"You're out here in the fall, instead of standing on a practice field, in a meeting room, or watching game film," Grant told WCCO Sports Director Mike Max. "I don't think I'll make up for all the time I lost, but I'm going to try."

He was active and involved in his community until the very end. Just two weeks before he died, he was a feature speaker at the NFL Alumni Gala, and weeks before that, met a 103-year-old Vikings superfan.

WCCO is paying tribute to Grant with uncovered footage from the archives, as well as interviews with football legends, and tributes from Mike Max and Mark Rosen.


Celebrating Bud Grant's legacy with Mike Max and Mark Rosen

The Bud Grant Report was a weekly football show on Channel 4, co-hosted by Mark Rosen in the 1980s. Rosen reflected on time spent with Grant and their cherished memories. 

Bud Grant Special: Mike Max, Mark Rosen look back at his legacy 08:26
By WCCO Staff

Players look back at Bud Grant's legacy

In 2008, the Vikings celebrated their former coach with a party at US Bank Stadium. Mike Max spoke to Grant's former players and famous friends about what Grant meant to them.

Bud Grant Special: Vikings throw party for Bud Grant at US Bank Stadium 10:49
By Mike Max

Spending an afternoon outdoors with Bud Grant

Beyond his love for sports, Grant loved the outdoors. It was a way many of his friends bonded with him off of the field.

In 2016, former WCCO Sportscaster RJ Fritz visited Grant at his cabin in Wisconsin. It was a special afternoon for many reasons, as you'll be able to see in this Life to the Max profile.

Bud Grant Special: Spending an afternoon outdoors with Bud Grant 11:01

For years, Grant cleaned out his house in Bloomington and welcomed fans to stop by at his garage sales. He sold everything from Vikings memorabilia to his beloved hunting gear to housewares. For a few extra bucks, he'd even sign whatever you wanted.

By Mike Max

Father-son duo both played football for Bud Grant

There are many football players and coaches connected to Bud Grant, but only one family has a father-son player-coach connection.

Leo Lewis III played for Bud Grant and so too did his father, Leo Lewis Jr., in the Canadian Football League.

Bud Grant Special: Father-son duo both played football for Bud Grant 05:39
By Mike Max

Bud Grant's life in retirement

Bud Grant retired from coaching at the age of 58 and started spending more time outdoors with his dogs and with nature.

In 1984, RJ Fritz got a special look at what a partial retirement looked like for Grant.

Bud Grant Special: What retirement life looked like for Bud Grant 09:15
By Mike Max
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