Former Vikings Coach Bud Grant still has that old animal magnetism.
I was standing within 2 feet of him Saturday at the Hall of Famer’s Mall of America book signing for his autobiography, “I Did It My Way,” when a woman for whom he had just signed a book said something diverting.
My attention was focused on setting up a shot for my startribune.com/video, so it took me a couple of seconds to understand what I’d heard. This woman — half, maybe a third of the coach’s age — remarked that she and her truck would be in the parking lot. There was a smile on her face, I noticed, when I looked at her just before she disappeared into the crowd.
I think she was trying to pick you up, coach?
“I know,” Grant said to me. “It didn’t work real well, did it?”
Later, while chatting with Mary Bruton, wife of Grant’s co-author, Jim Bruton, and another woman I’d seen lingering while others had left, I commented how Grant was being photographed like a pop star and how I even heard one woman hitting on him.
“Did she have all her teeth?” asked the woman who identified herself as Pat Smith.
That “teeth” remark rang a bell, but I didn’t know why without a lot of help from Smith.
When I interviewed Grant for a 2012 Q&A he told me he had a lady friend by the name of Pat, same name as his late wife and mother of his children. “That’s a coincidence, too,” Grant said. “She’s a substitute teacher in Mankato. Owns her own home, owns her own car, she’s got her own teeth, a great sense of humor, sports interest. It’s a great comfort.”
Well, I can tell you that Pat Smith has not just all her teeth but some beautiful, original-equipment pearly whites.
“I floss,” she quipped to me.
And she has rock hard biceps; I poked her in the arm while exchanging drolleries. “Got to keep him in line,” Smith said of her arms, which are well-toned because she swims when she can.
She also enjoys good debates on current sports issues with Grant, which would apparently find me on her side.
Asked whether he had any concussion-related problems, Grant told me, “I had three, that I know of; carried me off [the field].”
But no long-term problems because of those concussions? “People think I have,” he said with a laugh.
“Now, we don’t have time to discuss this, but I’ve got some thoughts on it. I’m not sure I agree with all of the diagnoses. Some [players] are more susceptible than others. Everybody who’s ever played has had ’em; some of us don’t respond or react like others.”
Smith told me she and Grant debate this “constantly.”
“I believe that concussions start from the time you’re little,” she said, “any time you bump your head, and build up over the years. And constant bruising and bruising is what’s taking a toll on people.”
She noted that Grant didn’t start playing football until high school, while kids today start much younger, and that he did not play even in the pros against people as large as many of today’s athletes.
Coach Grant also disagrees with me and Smith about whether NFLers tackle to injure.
“I don’t think you have any control over that,” Grant said. “If I want to tackle you and you’re running, I’ll get you any way I can. You don’t do it on purpose. You won’t last in the league very long.”
We clearly need to have a longer conversation about the lost art of tackling to bring somebody down and as opposed to injuring someone.
What about Bounty Gate? And the tackle that ended Patriot Rob Gronkowski’s season looked to me like it was designed to injure.
When I asked Grant to review some film withe me he declined:
“I’ve seen enough in my lifetime.”
All Day does Disney
Adrian Peterson revealed his inner Mickey Mouse while posing for a photo with the “Disney on Ice” star over the weekend at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
No room for that photo, but here’s the one released to me of Peterson’s family, fiancée Ashley Brown and their son, Adrian Peterson Jr., meeting the Mouse.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.