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Letters to Bud Chapter 1: The Intro

WRITTEN BY: LINDSEY YOUNG

Hall of Fame Head Coach Bud Grant will tell you he’s not sentimental – unless he’s talking about his dogs, of course – but mementos remain that share the story of his celebrated Vikings career.

Every May for the past several years, the coaching legend mind has held a garage sale at his Bloomington home. He never seems to run out of tagged items for tables that line the driveway.

Amidst pocket knives, aged fishing lures and throwback Vikings posters, there are binders filled scrapbook-style with curling newspaper clippings and pieces of fan mail – notes scribbled in crayon by elementary school students; detailed words of advice penned by middle-aged, lifelong Vikings supporters; letters postmarked from all over the country.

Grant has read each one – “They’re addressed to me; I’m the one who opens them” – but there are so many, hundreds, and he sees no reason to continue storing them.

“How many things do you have that are 40 years old?” he challenges.

In May 2016, Anne Chatelaine arrived at the rummage sale with a letter Grant sent her in 1977. She had written him as a child, and Grant selected it from a pile as one to respond to. The coach's letter, typed on Minnesota Vikings stationary and signed in purple ink, reads:

Original letter from Ann Chatelaine

I approached Grant weeks later to ask about Anne, whose day was made decades ago by a returned message from her favorite coach.

He sits casually in his Winter Park office. One leg crosses over the other, and he’s leaned back in a desk chair. Wearing a button-down flannel shirt and corduroy slacks, he taps on the wooden desk and gestures – gruffly yet warmly, as only he can – for me to come in.

“You get a lot of letters as a coach,” he tells me. “It would be impossible to respond to all of them, unless you had a form letter, which I did not have.

“I don’t recall the particular mood I might have been in that day,” Grant adds. “Sometimes you read something that had a hook to it.”

And while Vikings fans have taken home books filled with letters as souvenirs of their favorite team and its storied coach, they haven’t all been passed along.

“I have all kinds of letters,” Grant says.

He starts to stack piles of envelopes in front of me – some yellowed, some tattered, all unsealed with the tell-tale, straight slice of a letter opener.

So began the project of carefully sorting through letter after letter written and mailed to Head Coach Bud Grant. A large chunk of the messages were sent following the announcement of Grant’s retirement – thank you’s and reflections from fans, former players and other notable figures – while others date farther back to the thick of his coaching years.

Pages of a history book.

“I’m not sure anyone will have any interest in a bunch of old letters,” Grant quips.

We beg to differ, Coach.

Over the next several weeks, Vikings.com will unveil the five chapters in our "Letters to Bud" content series. This exclusive look at letters received by Hall of Fame Head Coach Bud Grant more than 30 years ago will provide a deep dive into the stories behind each carefully written message.

Watch for the first installment, "Notable Names: National Notoriety," which will launch on Friday.

Created By
Lindsey Young
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