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Dignified, steely coach Bud Grant always had a life outside of football

Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Outdoors

A naturalist at heart, and a keen observer of anything that moves, perhaps especially birds, and perhaps even more especially people, Grant might begin a day watching the cardinals and blue jays that feed outside the kitchen windows of his home or his northern Wisconsin cabin. Or he might stroll into Vikings headquarters, where, now in his 50th year with the club, he maintains a small office whose scattered memorabilia suggests a life spent hunting and fishing, interrupted by football.

A day's high point occurs if he sees one or more of his six kids, 19 grandkids or 13 great-grandkids.

Never one to look back -- Grant doesn't dwell on the Vikings' Super Bowl losses -- he nonetheless at times entertains the introspection that advancing age nurtures:

"I'll be reading the paper, and I'll find myself looking around and saying: 'This is great. How did I get here?' Of all the forks in the road I came to in my life, of all the decisions I made -- and making decisions is the most important thing you do -- I ended up here."

He almost didn't.

As far back as his NBA playing days, when an engine on the Lakers' team plane burst into flames over Boston Harbor after an evening game with the Celtics, and as recently as 2015 when he and a friend crashed-landed a twin engine Beechcraft in Saskatchewan while on a hunting trip, Grant could have bought the farm any number of times in airplane calamities.

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And he almost froze to death as a teenager while hunting ducks during the 1940 Armistice Day Blizzard.

"Luck is a big part of everything," Grant says. "I've been lucky."

Harry Peter Grant was born in Superior on May 20, 1927, to Harry Peter Grant Sr., a fireman, and Bernice Grant, a homemaker.

Realizing soon that two "Harrys" was one too many in her house, Grant's mother hung the moniker "Buddy Boy" on him. In time, the nickname was shortened to Bud. But not before it was emblazoned on a little red wagon he pulled around town, hawking Minneapolis newspapers that arrived in Superior by train.

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