Bud Grant Gave Kevin O’Connell a Very Special Gift

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On March 11th, legendary Vikings head coach Bud Grant passed away at the age of 95. It was a shocking loss to Minnesota and the entirety of Vikings fandom, but he left behind him a legacy that will last throughout history.

It appears that legacy is not the only thing he left with current Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell, though. After spending time with the Vikings on Wednesday, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated revealed that Grant gave O’Connell a very special gift prior to passing away earlier this spring.

That gift was the tie that Grant wore during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1994. The tie, featuring logos from every NFL team at the time, was placed inside a plaque with an inscription that read ‘From Coach to Coach’.

Legendary Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant Passes Away at 95
Dec 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant blows a whistle during the closing ceremony following the game against the Detroit Lions at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Lions 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Grant’s coaching career was the cornerstone of the franchise that the Vikings are today. He took a floundering expansion team and turned them into a perennial championship contender with some outstanding defenses. This included a Super Bowl appearance in his third year on the job and four trips to the big game in total.

Unfortunately, of course, none of these teams were able to get over the hump and win the Super Bowl, but in 1969, Minnesota did win the NFL Championship, debunking the notion that the Vikings have never won a title.

Jan 11, 1970; New Orleans, LA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant visits with commissioner Pete Rozelle prior to the game against the Kansas City Chiefs for Super Bowl IV at Tulane Stadium. The Chiefs defeated the Vikings 23-7. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

At Grant’s celebration of life this past Sunday, O’Connell was one of the many folks that shared thoughts on what the former head coach meant to them. “Although I didn’t know Bud personally long, it was one of the more impactful relationships that I’ve had over the past year since being blessed to become the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.”

In his first season as Vikings head coach, O’Connell put together a very impressive season, leading Minnesota to a 13-4 record and their first NFC North championship since 2017. It was the first time a Vikings head coach won the division during their first year on the job since Dennis Green did so in 1992 and was just the second time in franchise history.

Bud Grant Gave Kevin O'Connell a very Special Gift
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Now, the head coach is hoping to take even bigger steps in 2023 and beyond. The Vikings are still looking for their first Super Bowl appearance since Grant was head coach, and perhaps he saw O’Connell as the person that can take them there.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.