Bud Grant, legendary coach who led Vikings to 4 Super Bowls, dies at 95

Bud Grant, the legendary coach who led the Vikings to four Super Bowls and the team’s only NFL championship, died Saturday morning at the age of 95, the team announced on its web site.

Grant, who was born Harold Peter Grant in Superior, Wis., in 1927, coached the Vikings from 1967-1983, then one last season in 1985, retired with a career record of 158-96-5. That includes the team’s only Super Bowl appearances after the 1969, 1973, 1974 and 1976 — all losses.

“We are absolutely heartbroken to announce that legendary Minnesota Vikings head coach and Hall of Famer Bud Grant has passed away this morning at age 95,” the Vikings said in a statement. “We, like all Vikings and NFL fans, are shocked and saddened by this terrible news.”

Grant might have been born in Wisconsin, and started his coaching career in Canada, but he was a Minnesotan through and through. He was a three-sport athlete at the University of Minnesota — football, basketball and baseball — and twice all-Big Ten in football.

After retiring from coaching, he stayed in Minnesota, living in a West Bloomington rambler where he often held garage sales. He also played two seasons for the Minneapolis Lakers in 1949-50.

His Vikings teams won 11 division championships in 18 seasons. Before joining the Vikings, he coached the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, leading the team to four Grey Cup titles. Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, he played there for two seasons as a two-way end before moving to the CFL, where he played four seasons as a defensive back with the Blue Bombers.

In a 1955 playoff game against Saskatchewan, Grant intercepted five passes.

Grant is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton, Ontario. He also was inducted into the University of Minnesota’s M Club in 1991.

“There are so many adjectives appropriate to describe Coach Bud Grant: legendary, determined, successful,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said in a statement. “Underneath his outwardly stoic demeanor that some misunderstood as a coldness laid the warm heart of a man who truly loved his players and the sport of football.

“Coach Grant remained connected to the Hall well into his 90s, often reaching out to staff members in Canton to share his opinions about the game and how the Hall was representing it and his beloved Minnesota Vikings. The Hall sends its condolences to the entire Vikings organization and Grant family. We will preserve his legacy forever in Canton.”

When Grant retired as Vikings coach, only George Halas, Don Shula, Tom Landry, Curly Lambeau, Chuck Noll, Chuck Knox and Paul Brown had more wins than Grant’s 168 — 10 of those postseason victories.

In 1969, Grant led the Vikings’ to their only official NFL championship with a 12-2 record. They then played in their first Super Bowl, losing to AFL champion Kansas City, 23-7, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.

The Vikings would win NFC Championships in 1973, 1974 and 1976 before losing Super Bowl appearances against AFC champions Miami, Pittsburgh and Oakland, respectively.

Before the Vikings celebrated the 50th anniversary of their first Super Bowl appearance on Sept. 21, 2019, Grant said he was happy when seeing former players but called the experience bittersweet.

“Sometimes it’s kind of sad,’’ Grant, then 92, told the Pioneer Press. “You want to remember all of them in their vitality and their stamina, and you look at them now and we don’t look the same. We’re all stooped and walking with canes and have gray hair and no hair.

“It’s nice to be remembered, but we like to be remembered in our heydays and not in these old broken-down bodies we walk around in.’’

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