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Grant Steps Down, Burns Moves Up as Vikings' Coach

January 07, 1986|Associated Press

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Bud Grant has decided to step down as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and assistant coach Jerry Burns will succeed him, General Manager Mike Lynn announced Monday.

Grant led the Vikings to a 7-9 record this season, his first since replacing rookie Coach Les Steckel. Steckel was fired as the Vikings' coach last year after the team posted a 3-13 record, its worst ever.

"There are other things I want to do, " said Grant, 58. He said he was resigning "for the same reasons I had given earlier."

"Last year (there were) unusual circumstances," Grant said. "One of the conditions of my contract was that it was a year-to-year contract, renewable at the end of each year, a week after the season was over." he said.

"I think the club, whether I had anything to do with it or not, is in a little better shape than it was a year ago and the future is good," Grant said.

Grant said he discussed resigning as coach with Lynn on Dec. 28.

"With the infusion of new players we had, and some of our new staff members, it was probably as enjoyable a season as I've ever had," he said, but added that he was frustrated by the Vikings' five losses by narrow margins.

Lynn said Grant would remain with the Vikings in an unspecified capacity.

When he first retired in early 1984, Grant said he wanted to spend more time hunting and fishing.

Burns, 58, the Vikings' assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, has been with the team since 1968. He joined the Vikings after working two years as the defensive backfield coach with the Green Bay Packers. Before that, he coached at the University of Iowa for 12 years, five as head coach, and also coached at the University of Hawaii.

"Obviously I'm very elated, very excited," Burns said. He said Lynn contacted him last Saturday in Jamaica about becoming the Viking head coach.

Grant said he was leaving the team with "a good taste in his mouth." He said the team was only a block or a pass away from making the playoffs.

Grant coached the Vikings for 18 years and led them to four Super Bowl berths. As head coach of the Vikings his teams compiled a regular-season record of 158-96-5. Under his guidance the Vikings won 15 championships: 11 Central Division, 1 NFL and 3 National Football Conference.

Asked what he would do differently than Grant, Burns said: "It's hard to say. I'm not a Bud Grant. I'm not a George Allen. I just try to be myself."

Burns had been a candidate for head coach when Grant first retired in 1984 and Lynn defended the selection of Steckel over Burns.

"You can't bat a thousand percent in anything you do and you can't look back on things. You've got to look forward," Lynn said.

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