MINNEAPOLIS (BVM) –There is a lot of optimism behind the Minnesota Vikings organization at the moment with first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell and one of the faces of the NFL in Justin Jefferson.
The Vikings have consistently been one of the more respectable franchises across the league over the past couple of decades, typically at least being in the hunt for the postseason.
But Minnesota fans are ready for the breakthrough.
The Vikings have not played in the Super Bowl in over 40 years, making the success of head coach Bud Grant even more impressive.
While Grant is a god-like figure in Minneapolis after leading the Vikings to four Super Bowl appearances in the 1970s, it does not seem he gets the respect as one of the greatest coaches ever.
Before pro career
Grant grew up in Superior, Wisconsin, and later attended the University of Minnesota but had a pitstop in the Navy during World War II.
He was a jack of all trades for Golden Gopher athletics playing football, basketball and baseball for the school.
Following his collegiate career, Grant was selected in both the 1950 NBA and NFL Drafts. He was drafted No. 14 by the Philadelphia Eagles and No. 42 by the Minneapolis Lakers. Grant preferred to stay local and decided to play basketball.
NFL playing career
Grant won a championship as a rookie with the Lakers, but after two seasons of scarce playing time, he opted to go back to football with the team that drafted him.
In his first season in Philadelphia, Grant was an edge rusher and led the team in sacks. For his second year, they moved him to the other side of the ball as a receiver.
Grant finished second in the league in yards behind only Billy Howton.
But after his contract with the Eagles expired following his second season, Philadelphia and Grant could not come to terms on a new deal, resulting in Grant signing with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL.
He played four seasons for the Blue Bomber organization.
At the age of 29, Grant stuck around in Winnipeg, becoming the head coach. He became the youngest coach in the history of the CFL.
Grant stayed there for nine more seasons, winning four Grey Cups during his tenure.
In 1967, Grant returned to the NFL taking the head coaching job with the Minnesota Vikings, replacing Norm Van Brocklin. In just his second season, he led the organization to its first playoff berth in the franchise’s eight-year history.
Grant one-upped himself in his third season leading the Vikings to their first of four Super Bowl appearances in the decade, but they were defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs.
He spent 18 seasons on the sidelines for the Vikings before retiring in 1985 with a career record of 158-96-5.
The next closest in Minnesota’s history to Grant’s 158 wins is Dennis Green with 97.
Grant was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
Where is he now?
Now 95 years old, Grant does not let his age keep him away from the game of football.
In fact, he still works for the Vikings organization as a consultant. He has even been able to serve as a mentor to O’Connell, who he’s had a great relationship with since he was hired.