Legendary former Vikings coach Bud Grant is going back to his roots. On Wednesday, he will be honored in Superior, Wis. — where he was a three-sport high school athlete — by the Hometown Hall of Famers, presented by Allstate and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Star Tribune’s Michael Rand caught up with Grant on a number of subjects earlier this week:
Q You’ve received the highest award in football by being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but I imagine earning an honor based on your high school prowess is still special.
A It is, because when we’re that age we have young, fertile minds. I happened to be in high school during [World War II], and in high school you create memories you have forever. Someone will say, ‘Do you remember that [Vikings] game in 1977,’ and I can’t remember any of it. But if you say, ‘Do you remember that game from high school,” I remember every one of those. You’re imprinted in high school more than any other point in your life.
Q You played football, baseball and basketball in both high school and at the University of Minnesota. How important was it to you to play three sports?
A I happened to be in a position in Superior where I could play three sports, and when I came to Minnesota I had the understanding they would allow me to play three sports. Kids now don’t have the same amount of time. You have coaches that think baseball is 10 months a year. Hockey is 11 or 12 months a year. You have to go to the weight room every day to be a football player, and that takes away from the other sports.
Q I read that as much as we know about your long football career and basketball background with the Lakers, your first love might have been baseball. Any regrets there?
A Going back to the 1940s, you have to remember baseball was No. 1. Everybody knew Babe Ruth. Everybody played baseball and knew baseball. You know what No. 2 was? Boxing. … But even today, not many guys jump straight to the Major Leagues. You have to go through that ladder to get up there, and I found out pretty quick that I didn’t particularly want to ride those buses to play baseball. I could play in the [NBA] and play with the Lakers and win a world championship.