(FOX 9) - Hall of Famer Bud Grant's legendary status extended long after his days as the field general for the Vikings.
He’s part of the fabric here in Minnesota. He lived in the same house from the day he moved to Minneapolis. He loved the outdoors and embraced cold weather. And he hid a tender heart behind a tough exterior.
"Bud is Minnesota," said broadcaster Chad Hartman, whose father was Grant’s best friend. "You know, when people think about him, it’s not just the Vikings. It’s that look. That handsome man. That stoic face. It’s that determination."
Bud Grant wasn’t born in Minnesota, but he got here as fast as he could.
Whether he shaped the state in his image or vice versa is a question for the ages, but the Golden Gopher became a Minneapolis Laker and then a Vikings legend and NFL Hall of Famer.
The winningest coach in team history took the Vikings to four Super Bowls and lost them all. But he didn’t dwell in defeat, one of the first life lessons he taught sportscaster Mark Rosen.
"People would say ‘Well, you lost all these Super Bowls. You must be still stewing,’" Rosen said. "Bud was like ‘I’m not going to worry about things I can’t control.’"
Grant’s life after coaching kept him around the Vikings where he still has an office resembling the one he had decades ago. And he still tried to boost the team, like when he did the coin toss at a January playoff game, determined to intimidate the visiting Seahawks.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar was at the game and saw Grant walk out in short sleeves despite a wind chill being around -30 degrees.
"When I talked to him about it later, he goes ‘Yeah, I knew what I was doing,’" said the senator, whose father wrote a book with Grant. "He understood that he was a symbol, not only of football and the Vikings. He was a symbol of Minnesota grit."
That grit extended to his financial life.
He was a tough negotiator, even at the garage sales he hosted at his home for several years. He didn’t go for haggling, but he welcomed memorabilia seekers with an open door.
"He grew up in the Depression, so he had an appreciation for the dollar and what it meant and to save," Rosen said. "And he loved the roughest of rough lives growing up. He was hustling all the time. You never really lose that. But at the same time, he had a humane side to him that was so relatable again that people gravitated to Bud. I mean, he’s Bud."
Friends remember Grant’s dedication to his family and his love of the outdoors. And they know most people never saw the softy he could be with his inner circle.
But when his best friend — the sports journalist Sid Hartman — passed away in 2020, Chad Hartman says you couldn’t miss his sensitive side. Grant wasn’t feeling well, but he made it to the funeral.
"Bud was determined to get out of the car, tears coming down his eyes, telling my father how much he loved him," Chad Hartman said. "Somewhere today I envision those two back together again and sharing great stories."
The other life lesson he taught Rosen was to never make a decision before you have to.
Grant was supposed to be at an event earlier this week to honor a longtime Vikings employee, and when he decided not to go, his close friends were concerned.
The Minnesota Vikings announced on Saturday morning that Grant passed away at the age of 95.