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Bud Grant passes away at 95. Who was the legendary Minnesota Vikings coach?

The Minnesota Vikings are in mourning following the death of their former coach and legendary tactician. Indeed, so too is the wider NFL.

The Minnesota Vikings are in mourning following the death of their former coach and legendary tactician. Indeed, so too is the wider NFL.
Ronald C. ModraGetty Images

Where his legacy is concerned, some may point to Grant’s inability to win a Super Bowl in four appearances, but how many can say they’ve taken a team to the NFL’s biggest game four times. Indeed, the Hall of Fame coach was one of a kind.

Legendary Vikings coach Bud Grant passes away

On Sunday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings announced on that legendary coach Bud Grant has passed away at the age of 95. No official cause of death has been given.

“We are absolutely devastated to announce 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 released on Twitter. “We, like all Vikings and NFL fans, are shocked and saddened by this terrible news.” Grant, who coached the Vikings for 18 seasons from 1967 to 1985, registered a daunting 158-96-5 regular-season record, while posting 10-12 in the playoffs. During his time with the franchise, the Vikings made it to the Super Bowl on four occasions during an eight-year spell.

The man who gave us the “Purple People Eaters”

Though Grant coached a number of players who would go on to become Hall of Famers including Fran Tarkenton, Paul Krause, Mick Tingelhoff, and Ron Yary, perhaps what many will always remember him for is being the man behind the legendary ‘Purple People Eaters.’ Named due to the team’s color and the brutal way in which they went about their work, the Vikings’ feared defensive line included the likes of Alan Page, Gary Larsen and the notorious Carl Eller, along with Jim Marshall. This was a defensive line that quite literally mauled the opposition, and it would be safe to assume it was on Grant’s instruction.

Who was Bud Grant?

From the outset, it was obvious that Grant was athletically above average. Proficient in three sports - football, basketball and baseball - he was actually selected in both the NFL and NBA Drafts during his playing days. After initially opting for the court, he would play two years with the then Minneapolis Lakers and was even a member of their 1950 championship winning team. Yet, it was clear that the football field had a hold on him and so after those two seasons, he made his way to the NFL where he joined the Philadelphia Eagles. In his second season in Philly (1952) he caught 56 passes for 997 yards and seven touchdowns. Following his stint with the Eagles, he then made his way to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League.

Of course, the best was yet to come. Once his playing career concluded, Grant became the coach of the Blue Bombers in 1957 and remained with them in that capacity until 1966, winning four Grey Cups and a CFL Coach of the Year award along the way. Fittingly, there is a statue of him outside of the Blue Bombers’ stadium today. The next stop was Minnesota and it was there that things really took off. Interestingly, from 1986 until his death, Grant was still listed as a consultant for the Vikings and maintained an office at the team’s facility. Additionally, he is a member of the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame, the Minnesota Vikings Hall of Fame, and of course the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Though his first wife of 59-years died in 2009, Grant remarried and as such is now survived by his partner Pat Smith, six children, 19 grandchildren and, as of 2021, 13 great grandchildren.