“I’ve coached 600 football games and played in 400 of them. I’ve met thousands of stars playing football. I’ve never met any heroes in football, only stars. Heroes are the guys that raise their right hand.” This came from the recently passed Bud Grant.
Ironic as last week I wrote about Tonto and a Medal of Honor recipient. They risked all for zero gain and rejected the hero label.
I recall as a kid watching the stoic and emotionless Grant on the sidelines. I always wondered why he never flailed his arms and had very few (good or bad) words to say. A couple quotes of his sums it up. “If winning or losing is going to define your life, you’re on a rough road. You have to remember football is entertainment, it’s not life or death.”
Here is a man that knew what was important. You can tell it by the way he lived.
Bud left for basic training in the Great Lakes a day after graduating high school. As he stated “we had a war going on and we didn’t know if we were gonna win.”
Bud did not have to go overseas as the atomic bombs and D-day secured wins on both fronts.
He did see action though. On 2 May 1946, a violent takeover on the island prison Alcatraz took place. Bud transported the Marines to the island to quell the violence. He said he was the only serviceman he knew with an American campaign ribbon.
He played football for the Navy. He was coached by another Navy Veteran Paul Brown. Brown coached all his life, and they named a team after him. Yes, the Cleveland Browns.
After the navy Bud went to the U of M. He played 3 sports. Upon graduation he was drafted by the NFL #1 pick by the Eagles. Drafted #14 in the NBA by the Lakers. He chose the NBA as the Lakers of LA fame that were based in Minnesota then. In 1950 Bud won a championship with the Lakers. Fact he was the oldest NBA champion at his death.
He became the youngest CFL coach, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and won the gray trophy. He is in the Canadian and American football HOFs. He is the 5th most successful NFL coach.
He was married 59 years, taking his wife duck hunting for a honeymoon.
His advocating for wetlands and wildlife were just as stout as his football. Stating “preserving MN wetlands is more important than any football stadium.”
He would hold practices outside always. “Cold was a state of mind”. Heaters were not allowed on the sidelines. Players would “focus on the heaters not the game”.
His team would stand in a straight line when the National Anthem was played. The team even practiced for it.
He loved dogs, the outdoors, sports, family, Minnesota and his country. Always a staunch advocate for veterans.
Truly this Bud was for us all. Bud you were an iconic star and I will call you a hero.
Anything veteran related contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.