There had been only hints in the Twin Cities media of the loathing that Vikings coach Norm Van Brocklin and quarterback Fran Tarkenton had developed for one another during their six-year association.
The veil of semi-secrecy was lifted on Dec. 4, 1966, when the new expansion team, Atlanta, faced the Vikings at Met Stadium. The vindictive Van Brocklin benched Tarkenton against his hometown team and turned the game (a 20-13 loss) over to backup Bob Berry.
The coach and QB had a seven-hour sit-down after the season. No peace was made. Tarkenton wrote a letter of "resignation" to the Vikings. Van Brocklin then resigned on Feb. 11.
Tarkenton still wanted a trade, and GM Jim Finks still wanted to trade him. Tarkenton was sent to the New York Giants on March 6 for draft choices that brought Clint Jones, Gene Washington and Bob Grim in 1967, and Hall of Famer Ron Yary in 1968. Finks also acquired a Rams pick in 1967 that brought Alan Page.
Finks didn't require a wide search for a coach. He had been in the Canadian Football League and wanted Bud Grant, already a CFL coaching legend at 39 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
"Go to the airport and pick up Bud Grant," Finks told Bill McGrane, his public relations man. "He'll be the one who looks like the town marshal."
Grant was named as coach on March 11. Three days later, the rebuilding of the Vikings started with the draft.
Bud was familiar as a former Gopher and Minneapolis Laker. Still, there was an odd quality to this new coach. We scoffed loudly when he had Fred Cox kick a 21-yard field goal with the Vikings trailing the Los Angeles Rams 32-0 early in the fourth quarter of his second game.
The 1967 Vikings finished 3-8-3. "Tie one for Bud!" was a sarcastic motto offered by fans.
Two years later, quarterback Joe Kapp came up with "40 for 60!" — 40 players for 60 minutes — as the 1969 Vikings went to the Super Bowl. There would be three more, after Tarkenton returned in 1972 to be the quarterback for a steely-eyed coach with whom he was compatible.