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NFL Alumnus Bud Grant Leaves A Remarkable Football Legacy

Harry (Bud) Grant, who passed away last Saturday at age 95, was a Pro Football Hall of Fame coach, outstanding three-sport collegiate athlete, and an avid outdoorsman.

Bud Grant also was one of us, a proud NFL alum who played both ways for the Eagles in the early 1950s. He was Philadelphia’s first-round draft choice in 1950 but initially decided to play in the NBA for his adopted hometown Minneapolis (now Los Angeles) Lakers for two seasons. He had excelled at both sports for the University of Minnesota Gophers after serving in the Navy during World War II.

Bud Grant signed with the Eagles in 1951 and played defense that first season. Although it was not an official statistic in those years, he led the team in sacks. He switched to his more familiar position as a receiver the following season and was runner-up in the league with 997 yards on 56 receptions.

After receiving what he viewed as a sub-par contract offer (where have we heard THAT before?) for a potential third season with the Eagles, he moved north to Canada and excelled on the field for four seasons in the CFL with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He made such an impression on team management in Winnipeg, they named him the head coach in 1957 at age 29, the youngest head coach in CFL history. He became a four-time Grey Cup champion before being lured back to Minnesota to coach the Vikings in 1967 at age 39.

His death last weekend saddened nearly all residents of Minnesota who many times had voted Bud the most respected and popular individual in the state. The Wilf family, who now own the Vikings, made sure that Bud retained an office in a prominent spot in their new team headquarters where current coaches, staff and players could call on him for advice.

“No single individual more defined the Minnesota Vikings than Bud Grant,“ the Wilfs said in a statement. “A once-in-a-lifetime man, Bud will forever be synonymous with success, toughness, the North and the Vikings.”

His former Vikings players respected their stoic, steely-eyed coach because not only was he a winner (four Super Bowl appearances, 11 division titles) but he also had played the game and treated them as professionals.

“Bud never embarrassed a player, never criticized or chewed out a player in front of anybody else,” says Vikings alum Dave Osborn, who played running back under Coach Grant for nine seasons. “If he had something he didn’t like about you, he’d take you aside and talk to you. Bud just had a knack for leading and handling people. He was a great football coach, but Bud also could have coached a sport he didn’t know anything about because he just knew how to handle people.”

We at NFL Alumni celebrate the life of Bud Grant…Navy veteran, college & professional two-sport athlete, Hall of Fame coach and a well-respected and well-loved NFL alumnus. Bud will be missed!