Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve Its History, Promote Its Values & Celebrate Excellence Everywhere
"The only reason I can see for a head coach getting credit for something good is that he gets so much blame when something is bad. The whole secret, I think, is to not react to either the good or the bad.”
(Minnesota)...Harry Peter Grant, Jr. . .NFL coaching tenure began in 1967. . .NFL record: 168-108-5. . .Led Vikings to 11 divisional championships in 1968 through 1971, 1973 through 1978, 1981. . .Won 1969 NFL championship, NFC titles in 1973, 1974, 1976. . .Nine-letter athlete at Minnesota. . .Played in NBA, NFL, CFL before embarking on coaching career in Winnipeg. . . Born May 20, 1927, in Superior, Wisconsin.
In Bud Grant's 18 years as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from1967 through 1983 and a one-year final stint in 1985, his teams compiled a .620 winning percentage (158-96-5) in regular-season play. His 168 coaching triumphs, counting 10 post-season wins, place him among the all-time greatest coaches.
At the time of his retirement, only George Halas, Don Shula, Tom Landry, Curly Lambeau, Chuck Noll, Chuck Knox and Paul Brown had engineered more wins in pro football play. Grant, who had just completed a 10-year -tenure as head coach of the highly successful Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, took over the Vikings in 1967.
In just his second season in 1968, he launched the Vikings on a string of championship seasons rarely equaled in sports competition. From 1968 through 1978, the Vikings won the NFL/NFC Central Division 10 times in 11 seasons, missing only in 1972. During that span, the Vikings won the 1969 NFL championship and NFC titles in 1973, 1974 and 1976.
Grant's Minnesota teams appeared in four Super Bowls. An NFC Central title in 1980 gave Grant a total of 11 championship teams. Born May 20, 1927, in Superior, Wisconsin, Grant became a nine-letterman athlete at the University of Minnesota. He was a two time All-Big Ten end in football, a two-year baseball star and a three-year basketball regular.
Although a first-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1950, Grant postponed his NFL debut to play for the Minneapolis Lakers of the NBA. He played two years with the Lakers, who won the NBA title each year. In 1951, Bud turned to pro football with the Eagles. He played on defense as a rookie and then became the No. 2 pass receiver in the NFL with 56 catches in 1952.
*Strike year format
Full Name: Harry Peter Grant, Jr.
Birthdate: May 20, 1927
Birthplace: Superior, Wisconsin
High School: Central (Superior, Wis.)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 29, 1994
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: July 30, 1994
Presenter: Sid Hartman, Sports editor Minneapolis Star
Other Members of Class of 1994: Tony Dorsett, Jimmy Johnson, Leroy Kelly, Jackie Smith, Randy White
Bud Grant Enshrinement Speech 1994
Presenter: Sid Hartman
Thank you very much Jim. It is a great honor and privilege to be standing here before you today as football prepares to admit Bud Grant into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. To most people Bud Grant is are historic, unemotional figure on the sidelines at countless Viking football games, but that is not the real Bud Grant. As all of you know, working journalists are taught to avoid friendships with the people they cover -- they call it conflict of interest. If that has been the rule some 45 years ago, it would have cost me one of the best friends I have on this earth.
I met Bud Grant when he was a young football player at the University of Minnesota and I was a young reporter, trying to prove that my superiors went out on a limb and gave me a column to fill. Two things I learned right away about Bud. First was that he was a good athlete, one of the best if not the best in the history of the University of Minnesota and second, even as a very young man he loved the outdoors. He took it upon himself to try to get me to appreciate his love of the nature like the time he borrowed my car for the night. About a week later I started to notice this strange smell. Bud told me I was crazy, but the smell got worse and worse until I found three dead crows that he hid in the trunk of my car. When that failed to convert me to a nature lover, he hid a squirrel in the glove compartment of my car, and I didn't find that squirrel until it started up my leg in rush hour traffic. My colleagues on the selection committee will not have to hear me giving my Bud Grant speech year after year. If ever a man deserved a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it would be Bud Grant. Let's look at the records.
He won a total of eight college letters; four in football and two each in basketball and baseball. He was an all-Big ten in both his junior and senior years. He went directly from college into the National Basketball Association where he played two years for the world championship Minneapolis Lakers. Bud moved to pro football in 1951 and the Eagles had made him their number one draft choice in 1950 and he played the 1951 season as a defensive end. He always has been one of the versatile persons I've known. He came back in 1952 as an offensive end for the Eagles and caught 57 passes for 997 yards and wound up the second leading receiver in the league He moved into the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Bombers where he played the next four seasons catching 216 passes for 3,200 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 1957 Ali Sherman left as the Winnipeg coach to take a job with the New York Giants. Bud was only 29 years old at the time, but he took the job and became the winningest coach in the Canadian Football League in the next 10 years. His teams won the western division championship in five of those 10 years and the Grey cup four years. Bud joined the Vikings as head coach in 1967. He had the Vikings in first place in the central division just two years later. In the 18 seasons he coached he took the Vikings to 11 conference championships and four Super Bowls.
Counting his time in the Canadian Football League, he is the third all-time winningest coach in professional football history, trailing on Don Shula and George Halas. Throughout his coaching career he has been a credit to the game. His teams always showed the highest level of sportsmanship and his sideline conduct was a model for all young coaches to follow. I am extremely pleased to be here today to introduce Bud and I will always be grateful for the honor of sharing in this special day with Bud and his family. My only regret is that the man who showed the courage and insight to reach into the Canadian football ranks and hire Bud - Grant, could not be here with us today. Jim Finks was a great friend and a warm and wonderful great football person. We will miss him a great deal. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a tremendous honor to present you one of the finest, finest men ever to be associated with the NFL, my very close personal friend, Bud Grant.
Thank you, Sid. This is a great day for Sid and I, we have come along way. You know as a coach you don't get here because you can kick or catch or tackle or run or throw. You get here because you had the help of a lot of people. You reflect in what a lot of people have done. I would first like to say that Max Winter, who was President of the Vikings when I arrived and also had worked with the Lakers when I played professional basketball, was very instrumental in me coming to the Vikings. He and Jim Finks convinced me to come from Canada and join the Minnesota Vikings. They did me a great service and I am forever indebted to them. Sid mentioned Jim was one of the great general managers and a model for all general managers in the National Football League. After that it was Mike Lynn who was in his era and my time, I felt was the finest general manager in the NFL. He helped us tremendously with everything he did, ran a happy ship, made it possible for us to do things and to go on and win some football games. As a coach you reflect as I mentioned in the players as what they do.
The players you see behind me, the great players you see sitting over here, we as coaches we reflect as Tom does with everything they do. Sometimes, maybe we shouldn't but maybe we do. I am sorry to say that there are not a lot of Vikings in the Hall of Fame yet. But I hope that this is something that will be corrected in the near future because the Vi kings have some record setters that are out there. I am thinking of Paul Krause, who holds the record for 81 interceptions and should be in here very soon. Jim Marshall, 19 years as a starter, 270 starts, he will be here too, an Ohio boy. Mick Tinglehoff, a center, 240 starts, played many years. Carl Eller has been nominated; I am sure you will see Carl in here. Ron Yerry played many years, Matt Blair, there are many others that I think are deserving and will eventually be here enjoying this tremendous feeling. I only mention a few but there are many others, many that will never be included or considered for an honor like this. Players that worked diligently and I am here on behalf of them and there are so many I couldn't mention them all but I will say that Roy Winston, a 15 year player for us, probably will never be considered, was very instrumental, along with a lot of other players . The Hildenbergs, the Warwicks, the Shockmans, the Bryans, Seemans, Hannons, an Ohio boy, Massillon, Sundays, Kramers, Normans, Osbornes, Fershods, Whites, Olderman, Brown all familiar names that I hope will be remembered.
Probably no coach is ever successful without a great staff. I was very fortunate I didn't have a lot of assistant coaches and the reason that was because they stayed with us for a long time. Jerry Brynes, 17 years, a wonderful friend and coach and certainly gets credit for many of the things we did offensively. A trainer by the name of Fred Sambolety came to the Vikings in 1961, still there. No coach can exist without a close association with a trainer. John Michales. 27 years started in Winnipeg. John should be standing here today with me for all he has done, and I thank him. And, of course, you can't get by in this business without support from home. My family is here today. Probably the finest vacation and family gathering we have ever had.
My wife, Pat, is sitting here, when I needed support and understanding and always love, all my children are here, Kathy and Steve, grandchildren, Kelly, Rickie, Gretchen, my daughter Laurie, son-in-law Bob, Ben, Chris grandchildren; Pete wife Joan, Jennifer, Bryan, three-month old Elaina is at home couldn't make it, maybe next time. Mike, wife Coleen and Taylor and Ryan are here with them. Bruce wife Carie are here and the next time they are here they will have one because they are working on it, it is in the hopper now. My son Dan, I don't think he got the message yet, but he is here having a great time along with a lot of other friends and relatives that I won't mention at this time. Also, I would just like to say something about the fans in Minnesota, they have been great, it is a great place to play, a great place to live and a great place to work. It has been one of the finest places to raise a family and coach a football team in the National Football League; they contributed so much to my success.
With all the thank you out of the way, one of the questions that I am asked the most is what does it mean to be here today. Well, maybe I can give you a brief history. I have answered it a number of times, but I don't know if I can come up with the right answer. When I was born my name was Harry Fran. My father's name when I was a junior was Harry Senior. You can't run around the house with two Harrys. So, my mother nicknamed me and called me Buddy Boy, my dad called me kid. The Buddy Boy was shortened to Bud and the kid, if I would have been a boxer, I would have been Kid Grant. But my dad always referred to me as Kid. My father was very important in my life and was interested in sports and got me interested in sports. I remember my first year, Joe Lewis, I remember the night he knocked off Max Spelling, my dad and I jumped up and down as we listened to a radio, it was great.
But he had baseball fans, stars, heroes, football and boxing, but really something changed in Superior in 1939, the New York Giants came to Superior to train. They trained in 1939, 1940 & 1941. As a kid I hung around the Giants and my dad had a concession stand at the ballpark, got to know Steve Owen. My dad kept saying, hey my kid is going to play for you some day. Every year Steve Owen would come back and measure me, a little bit bigger. My dad would say the kid is going to make it, he is going to play for the Giants. Steve would say keep working on him, keep feeding him and I am sure he will. Well, the war came and a couple of years we prepared to go to war, but the Giants came back in 1948, now the kid was a little bigger and Steve was looking at me a little more convincing that someday I will play in the National Football League. And my dad said the kid is going to make it. My dad used to tell me stories about the NFL because as I mentioned early today, two players born in Superior that played in the NFL and are presently in the Hall of Fame. Tuffy Leemans came from Superior and played with the New York Giants and is in the Hall of Fame, Ernie Nevers one of the original Hall of Famers came from Superior and he is in here. So, there was a background even in a town of 30,000 way up in Northern Wisconsin way up in Lake Superior. The radio didn't carry the games and we would get the Chicago paper once in a while. My dad would tell me the stories of Red Grange, Johnny Blood. I asked him where did Johnny Blood get a name like that. He said he was a tough guy, he broke his nose every game and the blood would stream down his face, John Blood McNally he is here. George Trafton great center- always these guys were the toughest guys in football. George had a finger missing. I said how did he lose that finger. My dad said they bit it off in the bottom of a pile. I didn't believe that, so I asked George that one day how he lost his finger. He said I stuck it in a 45 in Chicago and they blew it off, so I didn't know what to believe. Bronko Nagurski from Minnesota many stories my dad would tell me about Bronk. There was a tough cookie kid. Of course, living close to Green Bay, Curly Lambeau was a legend.
Don Hutson the greatest receiver of all time my dad would tell me. If you ever want to be a receiver do what Don Hutson did. Of course, we didn't have any film, so we didn't know what Don Hutson did we just read about it. Sammy Baugh, many stories about Sammy Baugh. Raised on all that. Those were my dad's heroes. Then it came to my turn so I could identify with some heroes of my own. Tony Canadeo, Green Bay he is here. A great athlete Otto Graham I envied him because of his athletic ability. Thought I could play other sports. Crazy Legs Hirsch from Wisconsin. Almost as good as Hutson. Night Train Lane always wanted to call him Night Train. Bulldog Turner from the Bears he is here. Names that I followed. Chuck Bednarik one of the great all-time winners. He is here. And then Paul Brown who I had a chance to coach with and against. Maybe had more influence on the my life in coaching, he is here. And Marion Motley, my all-time hero, he is here. So those are all my heroes, my dad's heroes.
So, I go back a long way, back to the 1930 following NFL's players. And I am here with Tuffy and Red, Johnny Blood, Bronko, Curley, Crazy Legs, Night Train, Bulldog you can't imagine what an honor it is and if my mother was here today, she is 93 years old, she couldn't make it and I would look at her face and see the pride she would have that only a mother could have and if my father was here. He was different than I was, he was a very gregarious guy. He would stand up and he would say the kid made it, he finally made it. Well, I am here, and they can't take it away. And one other thing my father told me a long time ago, if you are ever asked to speak at such an auspicious occasion with so many great speakers, make sure you stand up good and tall so they all can see you and talk good and loud so they all can hear you, make a short speech so they all will listen to you and then sit down so they all will like you. Thank you.