Harry Peter Grant Jr.
May 20, 1927
Superior, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died||March 11, 2023 (aged 95)|
Bloomington, Minnesota, U.S.
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||199 lb (90 kg)|
|High school:||Superior Central |
|NFL Draft:||1950 / Round: 1 / Pick: 14|
|As a player:|
|As a coach:|
|As an executive:|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Head coaching record|
|Regular season:||NFL: 158–96–5 (.620) |
CFL: 102–56–2 (.644)
|Postseason:||NFL: 10–12 (.455) |
CFL: 16–8–1 (.660)
|Career:||NFL: 168–108–5 (.607) |
CFL: 118–64–3 (.646)
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
|Coaching stats at PFR|
|NBA draft||1950: 4th round, 47th overall pick|
|Selected by the Minneapolis Lakers|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Harry Peter "Bud" Grant Jr. (May 20, 1927 – March 11, 2023) was a gridiron football player and coach in the National Football League (NFL) and Canadian Football League (CFL). Grant was head coach of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings for 18 seasons; he was the team's second (1967–83) and fourth (1985) head coach, leading them to four Super Bowl appearances, 11 division titles, one league championship and three National Football Conference championships. Before coaching the Vikings, he was the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for ten seasons, winning the Grey Cup four times.
Grant attended the University of Minnesota and was a three-sport athlete, in football, basketball, and baseball. After college he played for the Minneapolis Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. A statue of Grant stands in front of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' current stadium, IG Field. With the Lakers he won the 1950 NBA Finals.
Grant is the most successful coach in both Vikings and Blue Bombers history, and the fifth most successful professional football coach overall with a combined 286 wins in the NFL and CFL. Grant was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994. He was the first coach to guide teams to both the Grey Cup and the Super Bowl, the only other being Marv Levy.
Grant was born on May 20, 1927, in Superior, Wisconsin, to Harry Peter Sr. and Bernice Grant. His mother called him "Buddy Boy", which later became "Bud". As a child, Grant was diagnosed with poliomyelitis and a doctor suggested he become active in sports to strengthen his weakened leg muscles over time. He started with baseball, adding basketball and football as he got older. Due to a lack of organized school teams, he arranged football games between neighborhoods and contacted kids from other schools to participate. During weekends, he spent time outdoors alone hunting rabbits. In his late teens and college years, he played organized baseball in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In 1940, Grant and two friends were duck hunting on Yellow Lake in northern Wisconsin when the Armistice Day Blizzard occurred. Grant survived by sheltering at a gas station while his friends were at a farmer's house.
Grant played football, basketball, and baseball at Superior High School. He graduated from high school in 1945 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Illinois and played on the football team coached by Paul Brown. Using an acceptance letter from the University of Wisconsin–Madison to be discharged from the service, Grant decided to attend the University of Minnesota instead. He was a three-sport, nine-letterman athlete in football, basketball, and baseball for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, earning All-Big Ten Conference honors in football twice. While at the University of Minnesota, Grant was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
After leaving the University of Minnesota, Grant was selected in both the NFL and NBA draft. He was selected in the first round (14th overall) of the 1950 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles and fourth round (47th overall) selection of the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1950 NBA draft. He played 35 games during the 1949–50 NBA season and signed with the Lakers for the 1950–51 NBA season. He chose to continue his basketball career with the Lakers because they were local and because he was offered a raise to stay for the season. Grant's close friend Sid Hartman was the Lakers' general manager, which may have influenced his decision to remain with the team. He averaged 2.6 points per game in his two seasons as a reserve with the Lakers and was a member of the 1950 championship team. After the death of Arnie Ferrin in 2022, he became the oldest living NBA champion.
After two seasons in the NBA, Grant decided to end his professional basketball career. He contacted the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL and agreed to play for the team during the 1951 NFL season. In his first season with the Eagles, Grant played as a defensive end and led the team in sacks (an unofficial statistic at the time). He switched to offense as a wide receiver for his second season with the club and ranked second in the NFL for receiving yardage, with 997 yards on 56 catches, including seven touchdowns.
Grant's contract expired at the end of the 1952 NFL season and the Eagles refused to pay him what he thought he was worth. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL had been interested in Grant while in college. Grant left for Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1953 and became the first professional player to "play out his option" and leave for another team. He played for the Blue Bombers until 1956 as an offensive end and was named a Western Conference all-star three times. He led the Western Conference in pass receptions for the 1953, 1954, and 1956 seasons and receiving yards for the 1953 and 1956 seasons. He also holds the distinction of having made five interceptions in a playoff game, played on October 28, 1953, which is a record in all of professional football. The Blue Bombers played for the Grey Cup in 1953, but lost to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 41st Grey Cup game.
Blue Bombers management decided that they needed a new coach prior to the 1957 season. On January 30, 1957, Grant accepted the Blue Bombers head coaching position after impressing management with his ability to make adjustments on offense and defense as a player. Club president J. T. Russell thought that Grant could coach even though nobody else did. Grant remained the head coach of the Blue Bombers until 1966. At age 29 (he was 30 by the time he coached his first game), Grant became the youngest head coach in CFL history.
During his ten seasons as head coach in Winnipeg, he led the team to six Grey Cup appearances winning the championship four times in 1958, 1959, 1961, and 1962. He finished his Blue Bombers coaching career with a regular season record of 105 wins, 53 losses, and two ties and an overall record of 122 wins, 66 losses, and 3 ties. Grant was the CFL Coach of the Year in 1965. Grant took on additional responsibilities as a club manager between 1964 and 1966. Max Winter, the Minnesota Vikings founder, contacted Grant in 1961 and asked him to coach the new NFL expansion team. Grant declined the offer and remained in Winnipeg until 1967 when Winter and General Manager Jim Finks were successful in luring Grant to Minnesota.
The Minnesota Vikings hired Grant as their head coach on March 11, 1967, taking over from their original coach, Norm Van Brocklin.
Over his tenure as Vikings head coach, Grant was known for instilling discipline in his teams and displaying a lack of emotion during games. He believed that football is a game of controlled emotion and teams would not follow the coach's lead if he were to panic or lose his poise during the course of a game. He required his team to stand at attention in a straight line during the entire national anthem played before the game and even had national anthem practice. Grant required outdoor practice during the winter to get players used to the cold weather and did not allow heaters on the sidelines during games. As per the latter practice it goes that Grant posited that with the heaters present on the sidelines the players would gather around the source of the warmth but if the heaters were not present the players would be paying attention to the game.
In his second year, Grant led the team to a divisional championship and his first NFL playoffs appearance. In 1969, he led the team to its first NFL Championship and their first appearance in the Super Bowl. The Vikings lost in Super Bowl IV to the American Football League champion Kansas City Chiefs. Prior to the 1970 season, Minnesota released Joe Kapp. After starting Gary Cuozzo at quarterback in 1970 and 1971, the Vikings re-acquired Fran Tarkenton prior to the 1972 season. During the 1970s, the Vikings appeared in three more Super Bowls (VIII, IX, and XI) under Grant and lost each one, but he was the first coach to lead a team to four Super Bowl appearances. He retired after the 1983 NFL season and was succeeded by Les Steckel, who led the team to a 3–13 record the following season. Steckel was fired as head coach after the 1984 season and Grant returned as coach for the Vikings in 1985. After one season where he returned the club to a 7–9 record, he stepped down again. Grant retired as the eighth most successful coach in NFL history with an overall record of 161 wins, 99 losses, and 5 ties. As of 2021, he also remains the most successful coach in Vikings history. During his tenure with the Vikings, he led the Vikings to four Super Bowl games, 11 division titles, one league championship, and three NFC championships.
Grant was the first coach to lead his teams to both a Grey Cup and a Super Bowl, with the only other one being Marv Levy.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|†||Won an NBA championship|
|Led the league|
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|WPG||1957||12||4||0||.750||2nd in W.I.F.U||2||1||0.667||Lost to Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 45th Grey Cup|
|WPG||1958||13||3||0||.813||1st in WIFU Conference||2||0||1.000||Won over Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 46th Grey Cup|
|WPG||1959||12||4||0||.750||1st in West Conference||2||0||1.000||Won over Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 47th Grey Cup|
|WPG||1960||14||2||0||.875||1st in West Conference||0||1||.000||Lost to Edmonton Eskimos in Conference Finals|
|WPG||1961||13||3||0||.813||1st in West Conference||2||0||1.000||Won over Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 49th Grey Cup|
|WPG||1962||11||5||0||.688||1st in West Conference||2||0||1.000||Won over Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 50th Grey Cup|
|WPG||1963||7||9||0||.438||4th in West Conference||–||–||–||–|
|WPG||1964||1||14||1||.094||5th in West Conference||–||–||–||–|
|WPG||1965||11||5||0||.688||2nd in West Conference||2||1||.667||Lost to Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 53rd Grey Cup|
|WPG||1966||8||7||1||.531||2nd in West Conference||1||1||.500||Lost to Saskatchewan Roughriders in Conference Finals|
|MIN||1967||3||8||3||.273||4th in NFL Central||–||–||–||–|
|MIN||1968||8||6||0||.571||1st in NFL Central||0||1||.000||Lost to Baltimore Colts in Divisional Round|
|MIN||1969||12||2||0||.857||1st in NFL Central||2||1||.667||Won NFL Championship. Lost to Chiefs in Super Bowl IV|
|MIN||1970||12||2||0||.857||1st in NFC Central||0||1||.000||Lost to San Francisco 49ers in Divisional Round|
|MIN||1971||11||3||0||.786||1st in NFC Central||0||1||.000||Lost to Dallas Cowboys in Divisional Round|
|MIN||1972||7||7||0||.500||3rd in NFC Central||–||–||–||–|
|MIN||1973||12||2||0||.857||1st in NFC Central||2||1||.667||Lost to Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VIII|
|MIN||1974||10||4||0||.714||1st in NFC Central||2||1||.667||Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl IX|
|MIN||1975||12||2||0||.857||1st in NFC Central||0||1||.000||Lost to Dallas Cowboys in Divisional Round|
|MIN||1976||11||2||1||.821||1st in NFC Central||2||1||.667||Lost to Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XI|
|MIN||1977||9||5||0||.643||1st in NFC Central||1||1||.500||Lost to Dallas Cowboys in NFC Championship Game|
|MIN||1978||8||7||1||.531||1st in NFC Central||0||1||.000||Lost to Los Angeles Rams in Divisional Round|
|MIN||1979||7||9||0||.438||3rd in NFC Central||–||–||–||–|
|MIN||1980||9||7||0||.563||1st in NFC Central||0||1||.000||Lost to Philadelphia Eagles in Divisional Round|
|MIN||1981||7||9||0||.438||4th in NFC Central||–||–||–||–|
|MIN||1982*||5||4||0||.556||4th in NFC||1||1||.500||Lost to Washington Redskins in Divisional Round|
|MIN||1983||8||8||0||.500||4th in NFC Central||–||–||–||–|
|MIN||1985||7||9||0||.438||3rd in NFC Central||–||–||–||–|
After retiring, Grant became a less prominent public figure and focused on hunting and fishing as well as supporting environmental reforms. He was a spokesperson against Native American hunting and fishing treaty rights in Minnesota. In 1993, Grant's efforts resulted in a death threat. In 2005, he spoke at a Capitol rally in Minnesota for the conservation of wetlands, wetland wildlife, and water. Grant addressed 5,000 supporters, saying, "In this legislative session, we want to see some action. It's more important than any stadium they could ever build in this state." In 1983, Grant was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and in 1994, he would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame by Sid Hartman, who was by then a senior Minnesota sports columnist.
Until his death, Grant was still listed as a consultant for the Vikings and maintained an office at the team's headquarters at TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minnesota.
In 2014, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers unveiled a statue of Coach Grant outside IG Field. In 2016, Grant was inducted into the Blue Bomber ring of honour.
Bud married Pat (née Patricia Nelson; born March 28, 1927) in 1950, and they had six children (Kathy, Laurie, Harry III "Peter", Mike, Bruce, and Danny). Bruce died July 25, 2018, from brain cancer. Mike started coaching in 1979 at Minnetonka High School, then became the Forest Lake head coach from 1981 to 1986 and 1989 to 1991. In between those stints, Mike served as the Saint John's (Minnesota) offensive coach in 1987 and 1988. Mike has been the football head coach for Eden Prairie High School in Eden Prairie, Minnesota since 1992. Mike Grant has coached Eden Prairie to 11 state championships since he began his tenure at the school. Bud Grant's grandson Ryan Grant was a quarterback and linebacker at Eden Prairie and played at the University of Minnesota (2008–2012) as a linebacker. Bud's granddaughter Jenny is married to former NFL quarterback Gibran Hamdan.
Pat Grant died of Parkinson's disease on March 4, 2009, at age 81.
Bud Grant died at home in Bloomington, Minnesota, on March 11, 2023, at age 95.
As of 2020, seven of Grant's assistants have become head coaches, and one has won the Super Bowl.