The subject of the Bud Grant memorial service would have approved of the tenor of the ceremony. The dress code was casual, as were the conversations.
Scott Studwell wore one of his best pairs of cargo shorts. Mike Grant, one of Bud's sons, looked at the sunshine beaming through the clear plastic roof panels and said: "My dad would have wondered why you were here on this beautiful day in the spring. He would have said, 'Why aren't you at the cabin?' "
For about 90 minutes at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, Bud Grant's family, friends, former players and colleagues reminisced about the Hall of Fame Vikings coach, portraying a man who was hypercompetitive yet hardly single-minded.
They said he loved his family, the Vikings, the outdoors and old-fashioned cash, sometimes even in that order.
“He did enjoy driving down 169 to Mankato, because he was always looking for deals, things on the side of the road. Which, most likely, would show up later at his garage sales”
Emcee Mark Rosen, who covered Grant as a local television star, introduced video clips from Fran Tarkenton, Jim Marshall and Ahmad Rashad. Senator Amy Klobuchar, whose father, Jim, covered Grant and the Vikings for the Minneapolis Tribune and Star Tribune, presented Mike Grant with a framed congressional statement honoring his father.
The theme of the event was titled "Bud Grant — He Did It His Way." Former players Carl Eller, Chuck Foreman, Stu Voigt and Studwell sat on a couch and comfortable chairs to tell stories about Grant, portraying a coach who could command a room with a stare and a team with a nod.
PaulWiggin, the longtime Vikings defensive line coach, told a story about Pete Carroll, then a young defensive backs coach, showing up to practice early one day, eager to please. Grant strolled in on time. Carroll eagerly asked Grant what the plan was. Grant said, according to Wiggin, "You're the defensive backs coach. Go coach the defensive backs.''
Wiggin said that at training camp Grant once assigned Carroll to go to the Mankato library and prepare a report on the Kyber Pass. "I never knew why he did it,'' Wiggin said. "It didn't make sense to me. That was Bud's way of doing things."
Carroll remains the Seattle Seahawks coach. He has won a college national title and a Super Bowl.
Wiggin compared Grant to "some ancient philosopher." Rosen remembered standing on the sidelines at a practice, and Grant wandering over, pointing to a monarch butterfly, and explaining that it was migrating to Mexico.
Grant's best friend was Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman, who died in 2020. Sid's son, Chad, joined a media roundtable with WCCO anchor Mike Max, Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse and KFAN host Dan Barreiro, and recalled Grant telling Sid that he would give Grant's Hall of Fame induction speech.
Sid drove to Chad's house with tears in his eyes, one of the few times Chad saw him cry. Chad admitted he also helped edit Sid's speech, to include more about Bud and less about Sid.
Chad said that his father and Grant had little in common, other than the Vikings and roots in the depression. Both, late in life, took to hiding cash in their houses.
Of all the kind and fond words uttered about Grant on Sunday, the most poignant came from his son Mike.
Mike is the legendary football coach at Eden Prairie High School. Sunday, he displayed the wry sense of humor that few were privileged to see from his father.
In his later years, Bud delighted in holding a garage sale, and charging to autograph the items he sold. "He did enjoy driving down 169 to Mankato, because he was always looking for deals, things on the side of the road," Mike said. "Which, most likely, would show up later at his garage sales.
"I want at this time to say that if you bought an old weed trimmer or trolling motor that never worked, know that you put a smile on my dad's face as you walked down the driveway and he had gotten rid of some useless piece of junk."
Mike said his father's character was formed in the depression, that Bud's entertainment as a child was shooting rats at the junkyard, that he honed his pitching arm throwing rocks at telephone poles.
Sunday, fans and friends said goodbye to Grant in a billion-dollar stadium that houses the team that he made popular. At the end of the ceremony, as Frank Sinatra's "My Way" played over the sound system, Rosen told fans that they would receive ice cream, Bud's favorite snack, as they exited.
Sunshine, ice cream and old friends. Grant might have put off a trip to the cabin for this kind of gathering.
But probably not.