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Bud Grant resigns as Vikings coach

By CARRIE MUSKAT

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Bud Grant, citing the same reasons that prompted him to step down two years ago, resigned Monday as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings for a second time and will be replaced by offensive coordinator Jerry Burns.

General Manager Mike Lynn announced the change at a news conference, flanked by Grant and Burns who has been with the Vikings since 1968 as an assistant coach.

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Grant had been the Vikings coach for 17 years before his self-imposed retirement at the end of the 1983 season. At the time, he said he wanted to spend more time with his family and hunting and fishing.

Les Steckel was promoted to head coach in 1984 but the team finished at 3-13. Lynn and Viking owner Max Winter lured Grant back to help return the team to respectability, offering a lucrative lifetime contract. Minnesota finished the 1985 season at 7-9.

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Grant, 58, said he had decided Dec. 28 to leave football again - just six days after the final game of the year. He cited the same reasons for leaving this time as he did after the 1983 season, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

'I can't give you any better reason than I gave two years ago,' he said.

'All the kids are out of the house. Now we (he and wife Pat) can pick up and go somewhere,' he said, adding he feels free to change his mind. 'I think I'm old enough to claim a little senility.'

Grant said front office squabbling over Winter's effort to sell his one-third share of the Vikings did not influence his decision.

'I think it's for the same reasons I'd given earlier,' said Grant, trying to explain his second retirement. 'I signed a year-to-year contract. We had decided if I did not want to coach, I would not be back.'

'I think the club is in a little better shape than it was a year ago,' Grant said. 'I think they need a coach who is going to be here for an extended period of time.'

Grant said he had no regrets about his brief return to coaching.

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'I wanted to go out with a good taste in my mouth,' he said. 'It was an enjoyable season.'

Lynn said Grant would remain on the Viking payroll as a consultant.

Burns said he was as surprised as anyone when Lynn interrupted his vacation in Jamaica to offer him the job Saturday.

'I guess every guy has a dream, a hope that he will be a head coach,' Burns said. 'After the last time, I thought time was running out on me.'

He was referring to being bypassed for the Vikings' head coaching job in 1984, recalling that he was considering taking a job with Cleveland at the time.

'(Grant) surprised me with his first retirement. It surprised me with the Les Steckel thing. He surprised me when he retired this time. Life's full of surprises,' said Burns, who signed a three-year contract.

Defensive back Joey Browner, who will represent the Vikings in the Pro Bowl next month, said he learned of the change in command from equipment manager Dennis Ryan.

'Dennis said 'do you know what's going on upstairs?' He said 'Bud's retired,' and I said 'say what?'' Browner said.

'Being on the defense, I don't know (Burns) that well but he's always encouraged me. He's the one who told me I'd be in the Pro Bowl,' Browner said.

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Burns, who will be 59 later this month, has been with the Vikings since 1968, serving as offensive coordinator. He joined the Vikings after working two years as the defensive backfield coach with Green Bay and had served at the University of Iowa for 12 years, five of those as the head coach.

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