BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- It shouldn't be assumed that the items still in Bud Grant's basement, the ones commemorating some of the greatest moments in Minnesota Vikings history, are necessarily still there for some transcendent reason. Or at least not any the Hall of Fame coach will admit.
After his three-day garage sale last week, Grant still has just two obvious tributes to his 18 seasons with the Vikings: a room with paintings and pictures given to him over the course of his career, and a wood-paneled built-in shelf with a replica of his Hall of Fame bust, his 1969 NFL Coach of the Year trophy and game balls from his most significant victories. They're still there, the 87-year-old coach said last week, because they're the ones his six kids, 19 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren didn't break.
"That's it," Grant said.
A tour of Grant's house, decorated with animal pelts and antler racks from all over the world, shows his love of the outdoors is still his biggest passion. He doesn't watch many NFL games, but he'll watch "every hunting and fishing show on TV," said Pat Smith, the woman who has been Grant's committed companion for several years.
But while his memorabilia might still be there because of durability, the items probably got put on display in his house in the first place because of their significance. There's a game ball from Grant's 150th NFL win, over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 20, 1983. There's a ball from his 200th professional win (counting his victories in the Canadian Football League), which came over the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 11, 1976. Grant also has the ball from his first career victory, which came Oct. 15, 1967, over the Green Bay Packers -- and Vince Lombardi.
"That was a funny story," said Chad Ostlund, who's been a close friend of Grant's for years and worked in the Vikings' front office from 1995 to 2005. "[Former coach] Mike Tice was in the hallway in 2002, and he goes, 'Hey, look at this, Bud. They made this thing for me, with the game program and the ticket and all this stuff [from Tice's first win over the Detroit Lions].' [Bud] goes, 'Well, who'd you beat?' [Tice] goes, 'Well, Marty Mornhinweg.' Bud's sitting there and he goes, 'Well, I beat Lombardi.'
"I think at that point, Tice went from 6-foot-8 to 4-foot-8 in about two seconds."
During the sale, though, Ostlund said Grant did float the idea of selling the game balls, but the two quickly decided against it. His sale last week was the 10th one he's held, and Grant has given each of his children items from his coaching career over the years.
"We all have special things," said Kathy Fritz, Grant's oldest daughter, "and there's lots more. I think he's digging deeper this time, but there's so much stuff, and the special stuff is not out there [on sale]."