For the past 11 years, the former Vikings coach has invited the public to his home in Minnesota to sift through clothes, canoes and other crapola. The Hall of Famer hosts No. 12 this week and turns 89. Plus reader mail
Mark Hamilton, a retired owner of five wildlife galleries in North Dakota, will get up this morning and drive nine hours—506 miles—from Minot, N.D., to 8134 Oakmere Road in Minneapolis, so he can go to a yard sale.
A yard sale. Bud Grant’s yard sale.
“Nowhere else in America can this happen,” Hamilton said Tuesday, preparing for his long journey. “Bud’s a Minnesota boy, and he’s revered. He’s not just a Minnesota treasure. He’s a national treasure. Cars are backed up on both sides of the road, and all they want to do is rub shoulders with an icon.”
And buy stuff. Grant, the Hall of Fame football coach who has not been in any sort of limelight since retiring as Vikings coach 31 years ago, turns 89 on Friday. He’ll celebrate by having 5,000 of his closest friends (best guess) over to his house on Oakmere Road for a real, live yard sale, for the 12th spring in a row. You know, with tools and kids’ clothes and hunting clothes and books and memorabilia and outdoorsy stuff like canoes and snowmobile suits. Why? A man’s got to live; the Hall of Fame bust and $4.85 will buy you a latte at Caribou Coffee.
Today at 5 p.m., Grant will blow a whistle—his old coach’s whistle, in fact—and somewhere between 500 and 1,000 early arrivers will flood his yard. No one can come onto the property until 5 p.m. exactly. “They’ll be respectful,” Grant said Tuesday. “We’re Minnesotans now, not New Yorkers.” The crowds will come from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, and then 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, to look over the stuff deemed expendable from Grant, his six children, 19 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren (his wife is deceased), spread far and wide on the lawn and in the garage. The renowned outdoorsman in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Manitoba and Saskatchewan wants to deal his hunting and fishing and sailing stuff this week.
“Got some canoes this year,” he said, and he must: He mentioned canoes four times in 24 minutes on the phone. “And paddles, and all sorts of fishing equipment. You want fishing lures? We got fishing lures!”
Cash and checks only. “In 12 years, I haven’t had a bad check yet,” Grant said.
“He’s the most famous person in the state, a guy you’ve loved for years, and here he is, inviting you into his yard once a year. Stay as long as you want. Who does that?”
There will be no discounts. Almost none, anyway. “The prices are as marked,” he said. “I don’t discount. I tell people, ‘If you don’t want to pay the marked price, you must not want it very much.”
Mark Hamilton, a longtime friend who has been hunting and fishing with Grant, can testify to that. “Bud,’’ he said from North Dakota, “would pinch a penny till it hollered.”
So I’ve seen some photos of the event from past years. It’s a good old-fashioned garage sale. Stuff scattered everywhere. And not overpriced. Lots of free clothes he’s been given over the years, particularly outdoors stuff and Vikings stuff. What’s he going to do? Die with all of it in the cellar?
Grant uses the money to finance his retirement, and his extended family gets some cash too. If it doesn’t sell one year, Grant puts it back inside—just like a regular American hoarder—and waits until the following May. A few years ago, he had a massive chest of drawers that didn’t sell for a couple of years, and he wouldn’t mark it down. It was heavy as hell. The next year, though, it went in the first hour of the first day. Full price.
“You know, you keep stuff for so long,” he said. “You get tired of looking at it. You just want someone to take it off your hands. But I won’t give it away. I was raised poor, you know. Everything has value.”
Some people just want to come and listen to Grant tell a story. Which he’ll do. He’ll sign an autograph too. If a shirt’s $20, it’ll be $40 with a Grant signature. If you don’t want to buy anything, that’s fine. He’s good with a conversation, or posing for a photo.
“Imagine this,” said Bob Hagan, the Vikings’ long-time PR czar. “He’s the most famous person in the state, a guy you’ve loved for years, and here he is, inviting you into his yard once a year. Stay as long as you want. Who does that?”
I am only angry I can’t be there today. If Grant has a garage sale next year, I can tell you this: I’ll be at 8134 Oakmere.
Last thing: I said Grant won’t discount. Don’t tell anyone, but he discounted something for his pal Mark Hamilton a year ago. “When the Metrodome got torn down, they took the banners from the inside there, and Bud was auctioning off the BUD GRANT banner. It was supposed to be $2,000. And...”
“Well,” Hamilton said, a bit uncomfortably, “I got it for about nothing. I mean, we’ve been friends … and I will just tell you, there is nobody like Bud. That is Bud.”
Now onto your email...
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SINGLE PARENT HOMES PROBLEMS BEYOND QUARTERBACKING
In the 1970s, one of my graduate school projects was reviewing all of the students’ records who dropped out of a highly esteemed college in California over a three-year period—to find trends if possible. The result was amazing to me and to the administrators of this college: The vast majority (over 70 percent) of the dropouts came from a family where two parents were not in the student’s home. Some were single parents, some were divorced, only one was from a parent death. So the quarterback issue is not surprising to me. Two parents allow for more support and usually more income, and that frequently means more opportunity for a child. Opportunity to find what they love, opportunity to become proficient.
When you think of it that way, Susan, you’re right. Makes total sense. But I found Robert Klemko’s story interesting because it’s clear that the quarterback, probably above every position in football—and most in all of sports—has an economic and familial part to it. The more money you have, the more family support you have (as opposed to, say, cornerbacks and tackles and pass-rushers) the better chance you’re going to have to succeed, because of all the extra training you’ll need to play the position at the highest level of football.
ON LOWER INCOME ATHLETES
You quoted someone saying “...and rightfully so” with regard to how most good quarterbacks come from upper middle class families and thus have inherited advantages. I realize that there is not time or space for you to comment on this in the MMQB, but you need to write about this in another column. This is just another example of the discrimination inherent in our social class system that is unfair and leads to many of society’s problems. It used to be racial discrimination was blamed for so few black quarterbacks in the NFL. So now it is social class. Shame on colleges and the NFL in not providing the resources to give equal opportunity to lower income athletes.
—Ed S., El Paso, Texas
Ed, that was renowned QB tutor George Whitfield (who is African-American) who had the quote you’re referencing. Whitfield this spring tutored Cardale Jones (who is African-American) among several quarterbacks who were preparing for the draft. Not that this changes your opinion necessarily, but I did want you to know those factoids. Also, I’m not sure what you’re proposing to do—get some sort of interscholastic or federal funding of 7-on-7 passing leagues to make sure that minority quarterbacks have the same chances as the Andrew Lucks and Andy Daltons? In this era of people screaming for smaller government, I’m not sure how exactly you’d get people behind that one.
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Robert Klemko’s piece was fascinating. The fact is that for any elite position, whether it be a heart surgeon, distinguished professor, or CEO of a major corporation, the deck is stacked in favor of the wealthy, two-parent homes. Lots of discussion these days of the American Dream and upward mobility which for many people is just that, a dream. An interesting corollary to your commencement speech having all the family members thanked for their support. Hopefully this election season can be less about sound bytes and insults and more about opening opportunities to all!
—Dean, Westfield, N.J.
Great point, Dean. I hope Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are reading this morning.
I have a 13-year-old son who has played quarterback since fifth grade. He is starting high school this fall and still plays three sports (football, basketball, lacrosse) today. I was curious during your investigative reporting, did you find out when the QBs gave up their other sports to focus solely on football?
Great questions. I called Robert Klemko to ask, and he said when the quarterbacks in his story learned that they had very good shots at playing in college, they turned away from other sports. But, in general, that wasn’t until about their junior seasons. He said all played multiple sports as young athletes. And Joe Banner, the former Philly and Cleveland executive who has studied quarterback development, told Klemko that NFL teams love quarterbacks who played multiple sports through high school, because it gave evaluators a chance to see their competitive zeal and clutch “genes” in other circumstances besides football.
ON JARRYD HAYNE’S OLYMPIC DREAM
Thanks for supporting Jarryd Hayne in your column today. He is not leaving the NFL to “just be an Olympics athlete” but one in a unique circumstance that may lead him to a gold medal in a rarely played Olympic sport. Consider:
• Rugby hasn’t been played in the Olympics since 1924.
• Jarryd is joining Fiji, which already is the No. 1-ranked Sevens Rugby team in the world and the favorite to win the gold medal.
Who could be upset at him for going for a gold medal in his original sport, especially when it is so rarely played at the Olympics? I hope he wins a gold medal and then comes back to the NFL again. As an Australian living in the U.S., my only regret is that he decided not to play for Australia at Rio—we could have used him on our side at the Olympics!
Jeffrey, thanks. Sometime fans don’t see things the way players see them. Hayne seemed earnest and well-intentioned when I spent time with him at Niners camp last summer. To him, I think the chance to win Olympic gold—quite possibly the only chance he’ll have at it in his life—should trump trying to do something he did last year, which is make an NFL roster.
COUGHLIN TO THE FIGHTING IRISH
I’m a huge Irish fan (disclaimer), so if I am Brian Kelly this fine day, reading about Tom Coughlin on The MMQB, wouldn’t I think long and hard about how to get this guy involved in my organization in some meaningful way that would be appealing to him? Not sure what that is—advisor, assistant coach, whatever. It would be a match made in heaven.
Great point. But this one might be better ...
Nice mention of Tom wanting to coach again. I totally agree, but not in the NFL. He would be a great coach for one of the academies or Ivy League where kids will listen and learn from him. Too bad his ego probably won't let him go there.
—Michael B., Pennington, N.J.
I would love to see Coughlin become coach-in-residence at an Ivy League school—and groom his successor for five years down the road.
I was a little disappointed that there was no mention at all of Ricardo Lockette's retirement in this week's column, especially given his classy press conference on Thursday. His story—and his response to the injury that very nearly killed him last November—is an impressive one, and he is a man who should be known for more than just being boxed out of the final play of Super Bowl XLIX.
—Will H., Everett, Wash.
You deserve to be disappointed in me, Will. I certainly should have noted it. Please watch our site in the coming days. We will try to correct that wrong, and soon.
HALL OF FAMERS AS GREETERS
The chance to meet an actual Hall of Famer at the Hall of Fame would be a great event for many fans. The idea reminded me of the time my wife and I visited the D-Day museum in New Orleans several years ago, and we had the great pleasure and honor of speaking to two veterans of the D-Day invasion. They were set up in the first floor of the museum and they were there to meet and talk to any visitors who wanted to meet them. We spent 3-4 hours easily with these heroes and were honestly thrilled when one of the vets took us through his personal photo album of his tour in Europe. We never made it in to the rest of the museum that day and had to come back the following day to see the exhibits. The museum by the way, is terrific. That afternoon we had with the D-Day vets is something we will never forget.
Clark Judge’s story, which I referenced Monday, is a perfect idea, and I hope the Hall takes him up on it. Thanks to you for pointing out how well it works in another walk of life.
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