Bud Grant Set The Standard For The Vikings That Has Never Been Matched

Most people remember Bud Grant standing on the sidelines at Metropolitan Stadium wearing a stoic expression as the leader of a team that got close to football’s version of Nirvana but could never quite get the Super Bowl thing down.

Grant was a man so secure in himself and his abilities that he didn’t care how his peers went about their business and he didn’t model himself after anyone. He was always interested in doing as thorough a job as possible to get his team prepared to play every game, but he did not do that by getting to the office at 4 a.m. and then spend 18 hours regurgitating the details of the gameplan ad nauseam.

He would prepare as long as needed to get his team ready – but not a minute more or less. Grant had a life outside of football. A wife and six children told the world that his icy stares were not the full story. There was a remarkable love of outdoors and nature that was just as important to him as coaching football.

Don’t take that to mean that he didn’t do anything but his best in leading the Vikings. He may have appeared to be a “my way or the highway” type. He was a natural leader on the sidelines who could communicate his disapproval with just one look.

He got to know his players quickly, and he treated them according to their possibility. “Some you have to coax and kiss, others you have to drive,” Grant said in a one-on-one interview. “You must never belittle a man in front of his teammates. You get him aside, compliment him first, and then let him know what he is doing wrong.”

As far as his philosophy for designing a gameplan, he did not have one approach. In the early part of his coaching tenure in the late 1960s, the Vikings had power backs Bill Brown and Dave Osborn, and Grant designed a between-the-tackles attack around them.

When the Vikings brought Fran Tarkenton back in a trade with the New York Giants and drafted the dynamic Chuck Foreman, Grant implemented a short passing game. They later added a pair of big-play receivers in Ahmad Rashad and Sammy White, and the game plan changed again. They became more of a down-the-field passing team.

“I think the biggest mistake any coach can make is to hang on to the same playbook for 30 years and try to fit each and every player in some predetermined role. It would have been silly of me to have Foreman run the same kind of plays as Osborn, just as the reverse is also true.”

That’s an approach that the best coaches often use, but many don’t. Even though Grant’s last year as a coach with the Vikings was 1985, that philosophy still works. It is not universally accepted, as many coaches want their players to follow their singular approach to winning football games. That does not work.

Grant was often associated with discipline, because his team always stood at attention during the national anthem in a neat and orderly way. But when it came to fixing mistakes and correcting inefficiencies, he wanted his players to take those steps with each other.

The last thing he ever wanted to do was yell at a player in front of his teammates. “The other guys on the team see that and then they doubt that player,” Grant said. “How are they going to trust him after watching the coach chew him out. That’s why I never did that.”

Grant was the greatest coach in Vikings history, a Hall of Famer who brought the team to four Super Bowls. Despite his ice-cold stare, he was not what he seemed. He cared for his players and, of course, his family. He had many interests outside of the game, and he lived a full and complete life.

Grant died Saturday at the age of 95, and he set the standard for a franchise that has yet to be matched.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevesilverman/2023/03/13/bud-grant-set-the-standard-for-the-vikings-that-has-never-been-matched/