MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The 1976 NFC title game at Met Stadium, when the Minnesota Vikings beat the Los Angeles Rams, marked the last outdoor playoff game in Minnesota.
And with so much conversation about the frigid temperatures on Sunday, it was a good day to visit with the old trapper himself — Bud Grant.
The Mount Rushmore of Minnesota sports images would be Grant on the sidelines of Met Stadium, wearing a Vikings hat, gloveless hands in his pockets and that icy glare that pierced the soul of opponents who dared to play his teams outdoors in the playoffs.
No matter the temperature or wind chill, his steadfast rule for his team always applied: no gloves and no heaters on the sidelines. Grant’s classic motto was “cold is a state of mind.” Let the other team worry about staying warm.
Sitting in his warm office at Winter Park Tuesday, I asked the now-88-year-old Grant if he really believed in that motto.
“You call it ‘showbiz’ [laughs],” Grant said. “You know, we had to sell it some way. And remember that we didn’t have in-door practice facilities. We would practice in parking lots and golf courses and places we could find a place to open up and, you know, practice outside.”
Mike Zimmer’s Vikings have the benefit of practicing indoors, but there is no real preparation one can have for the bone-chilling conditions they will face on Sunday. But Grant says it is much worse to play in wet conditions.
“Being cold is not debilitating,” he said. “We learned that from the Eskimos. They could be cold and they could function. And you could function better when you’re cold than when you’re hot. I mean, hot you become overheated and, you know, you lose energy. If you’re cold, you could function being cold. Now, frozen is different.”
Grant says he worries more about the fans staying warm than the players, adding it will be like turning the clock back to those Met Stadium days of the 70s for one last time.
“I think it should be a celebration because we’re not going to experience that again,” Grant said. “And I think that all the blackberry brandy and the schnapps should be bought up because they’re never going to need it again, unless you’re an ice fisherman.”
The Vikes will face the Seattle Seahawks at the frigid TCF Bank Stadium Sunday at 12:05 p.m.