vikingsstadiumThe Vikings honored 96-year-old Star Tribune sports columnist Sid Hartman on Tuesday, dedicating the media entrance at U.S. Bank Stadium to him.

It brought out a swarm of “close, personal friends,” including Vikings GM Rick Spielman, Timberwolves President Chris Wright, Twins President Dave St. Peter, U of M President Eric Kaler, former Vikings trainer Fred Zamberletti, former Vikings coach Jerry Burns … and … of course …

former Vikings head coach Bud Grant.

A series of speeches from Vikings folks and Sid’s son, Chad, served as heartfelt appetizers for the main course: Bud taking the microphone and spinning tales about Sid. The two have been best friends for what must be close to 70 years now, considering Grant is 89 and says the two became pals as soon as Grant came to the U of M when Sid was covering the beat.

budgrant“I am the original close, personal friend,” Grant said, drawing laughs and applause from the crowd.

If you’ve seen Grant at these occasions, the stories were familiar: how Sid took him to dinner countless times during his college days; how Sid ran the Minneapolis Lakers and helped get Grant on the team; how Sid helped Bud land a job in Winnipeg and eventually with the Vikings.

One got the sense that Bud was quite comfortable telling the tales. There was a sense as well, though, that he didn’t want to take any of it for granted. As Grant paused near the end of his speech to reflect on how many of their friends were no longer living, it was clear that moments like this can be bittersweet. He reminded us all that the day was important because it meant “Sid Hartman will always be part of this community and Sid Hartman will always be a part of this stadium.”

And then he went right for the heart at the finish.

“As one man can love another, I love you Sid Hartman,” Grant said, with tears in his eyes, as he walked away from the podium to give his best friend a hug.

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