By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Any time you talk Minnesota Vikings football or hunting, it’s fun to get the opinion of Bud Grant.

We paid the former Vikings coach a visit to talk about the popularity of the game, and the enduring love for the Vikings.

Sit with Bud Grant in his back yard and it’s always an education, on football and on why it’s so popular.

“It’s the contact and I don’t like to use the word violence, I mean that’s the wrong word, but it’s that part of it. I don’t know if people vicariously like it, but they just like to see that hit and that catch and that run and jump on people,” Grant said. “It reminds you of when you were a kid and you were fighting on the playground or something like that.”

The Vikings open the season on national television, Monday Night Football, at San Francisco. So what does Bud Grant think of Monday Night Football and do the players and coaches like it?

“Well Monday Night Football, I think the players kind of like it because they like the attention and it’s a lot of attention,” Grant said. “But on the other hand, it’s a disruption of the routine we used to have to play on Monday night. If you’re a player, you sit around all day waiting for a game. It’s different than when you play at noon. Monday Night Football has the good and the bad points. The bad point is you have to wait around all day and it disrupts your schedule for the next week. Now you have one less day to prepare for the following week. It goes both ways.”

In the 1970s when the Vikings were a good team, the NFL exploded. Now it’s one of the most popular and revenue-generating sports in the world with fantasy football. So did Grant know back then that it would get to where it is today?

“In those days you had Dallas, you had Miami, you had Los Angeles, you had Oakland, you had the Vikings and you had Pittsburgh. The other teams didn’t matter,” Grant said. “Before free agency we could retain players, you had good nucleuses that were going to be there almost every year. With free agency, that’s all changed now.”

Grant is the ultimate Viking, and he has beliefs about the Vikings’ popularity. He says it’s part football, and part something else.

“First of all the name, and the color purple,” Grant said. “I think those two things distinguish the Vikings as much as anything. You go anywhere in the country and say Vikings, they know exactly where you are. You say ‘Cardinals,’ well Cardinals who? There are a dozen Cardinals teams in the country in professional and amateur sports. The Vikings are unique, and there is no question if you mention Vikings, they know it’s Minnesota. It’s special.”

So now that Grant is retired, he can focus on one of his passions other than football: Hunting. How much does he hunt? It’s a lot more than most think.

“A lot more than I did when I was working I can tell you that. Come September, the middle of September when the first frost comes, that’s hunting season. Fishing poles are hung up and the hunting season starts,” Grant said. “You’ve got to be careful if you’re a hunter that it doesn’t become an obsession. I don’t want to sound like I’m obsessed with hunting and by doing that I go two, maybe three days a week. I’m home on weekends, go to a high school football game, Vikings games, college games. But I go during the week. Starting Sept. 21, I’ll probably be gone every week for two, three or four days.

Mike Max