“Greatest Vikings Coach of all time.” Vikings fans reflect on the passing of Bud Grant.
Icon, legend, athlete, coach.
These are words to describe the life of Bud Grant.
“Greatest Vikings coach of all time,” declared Pete Brandt, a fan from Byron, near Rochester. “It’s sad nonetheless. He was a legendary coach for the Vikings. Took us to all four Super Bowls we’ve been to — and it’s sad to see him go.”
The Vikings tweeted out about Grant’s passing Saturday morning.
“We are absolutely devastated to announce legendary Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant has passed away at age 95,” the tweet said. “We, like all Vikings and NFL fans are shocked and saddened by this terrible news.”
Brandt was among those stopping by the Vikings Museum in Eagan, after hearing the news.
Inside, there’s a display chronicling Grant’s athletic career: his days at the University of Minnesota playing baseball, joining the Minneapolis Lakers, in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, and finally 18 years coaching the Vikings.
“It’s pretty cool to see some of the memorabilia they have in there,” Brandt said. “And I always thought he was a pretty legendary guy.”
Skolt Scott, a leader with ‘Viking World Order’ — a social media fan page with 4,500 followers — says Saturday was a difficult day.
“It’s a huge loss in that regard, although a great time to remember a great man,” he declared. “When I first started learning football at ages four to five years, I mean, Coach Grant is the coach. He’s the guy who leads and directs the team to victory. And you grew up with all of that.”
After all the stoic days of standing on the sidelines in shirtsleeves — and those four trips to the Super Bowl — Scott met Grant in his later years.
“Met him plenty enough times to be relatable,” Scott recalled. “I think he was Minnesota’s greatest grandfather. One of the biggest sports, if not the biggest sports legends of all figures across sports for Minnesota.”
And then there was the cold.
Part of the Grant legend includes a ban on heaters on the sidelines.
“All the players would be standing out there freezing… always said gave us an advantage, being able to handle the cold weather,” said Rich Fenning, from Mahtomedi. “He never allowed heaters, that’s what I remember the most. Tough guy.”
“It just showed that we were tough and we were going to get through anything,” remembered Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Klobuchar says her father Jim, a sportswriter, was a longtime friend of Grant’s.
“I, as a young kid would answer the phone, ‘Klobuchar residence, Amy speaking,’ and there’d be silence on the phone, and then, this sort of a grunt — ‘Jim,’” the senator smiled. “After a while, I learned the drill. The minute I heard that silence and that voice, I ran and got my dad.”
Klobuchar says after she became a senator, she worked with Grant on conservation issues.
She notes she saw another side to the coach, away from the gridiron.
“He loved to hunt, a big part of his life,” Klobuchar said. “He wanted to make sure our prairies were preserved for pheasants and he wanted to make sure that our forests were preserved for deer hunting.”
But most Minnesotans would likely agree Grant was most at home on a football field.
Leading the Skol Nation with quiet confidence, grit and a will to win.
“The legacy is the stats, the wins, in the Super Bowl appearances,” Brandt says. “But I think just the man himself is going to be remembered. I think he was a pretty good person.”