Bud Grant is rightly revered as a coaching great. On this site you may recently have read about his time with the Minnesota Vikings. A time that was successful in all but one aspect, picking up a championship ring.
Grant has an equally impressive CV in the CFL to his NFL tenure. Perhaps more so. There is a statue of him outside Winnipeg’s stadium. Why? Because he coached the Bombers from 1957 until 1966 and under his guidance, led them to six Grey Cup appearances, winning four times.
(Image from twitter)
Grant had a short CFL playing career lasting only four years, from 1953 to 1956, all with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In those four seasons, Grant led the West in receiving in three of them (1953, 1954 and 1956), and was a West All-Star in those same years (there were no CFL All-Stars until 1962).
Grant was also a two-way player, playing defensive back and recording 7 interceptions in those four years. He wasn’t too shabby in this area either. In a 1953 playoff game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Grant intercepted five passes.
In 1957, at the age of 30, Grant took over the head coaching job with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. At age 29 when appointed (he was 30 by the time he coached his first game), Grant became the youngest head coach in CFL history. He had immediate success taking the Bombers to the Grey Cup final. However they did lose to the Cup game to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
That 1957 match-up was a sign of things to come as the Tiger-Cats and the Bombers met four more times in the next five years in the Grey Cup (1958, 1959, 1961 and 1962), and Grant and the Bombers won all four of them.
During his ten seasons as head coach with Winnipeg, Grant led them to 122 wins, 67 losses and 3 ties. A 64 percent win rate. Winnipeg appeared in the playoffs eight times and advanced to the Grey Cup six times. Winnipeg won the Grey Cup on the four occasions mentioned above.
Grant was the CFL coach of the year in 1965. He also took on additional responsibilities as a club manager between 1964 and 1966. Given his success it’s no surprise that the Minnesota Vikings contacted Grant in 1961 and asked him to coach the new NFL expansion team. Grant declined the offer and remained in Winnipeg until 1967.
Bud Grant was nicknamed “The Iceman”, so perhaps it was appropriate that after 10 years as the Bombers head coach, Grant went back to the frozen North of the NFL to become the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. This time the Vikings got their prize and though he didn’t deliver a championship he remains the greatest coach in their history.
Grant was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994. As mentioned above there is a statue of him outside of the Blue Bombers stadium. He is also on the Bombers Ring of Honour. He lost in 4 Superbowls? Don’t feel too sorry for him – overall he had a great career and left a legacy plenty of coaches would be envious of.
Banner image from bluebombers.com