Before drafting Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll called Vikings legend Bud Grant for advice

SEATTLE — Legendary Vikings coach Bud Grant got a call last week from Pete Carroll, his former assistant coach. They talked about their families and coaching and one other thing.

“He said, ‘That was a good pick on our part on (Russell) Wilson,’’’ Grant said Monday in a phone interview.

Grant said Carroll, in his 10th season as Seattle’s head coach, had called him in 2012 to seek advice before the Seahawks selected Wilson in the third round of the NFL draft. Carroll was a Vikings assistant from 1985-89, spending one season under Grant and four under Jerry Burns.

Wilson has gone on to win a Super Bowl and play in five Pro Bowls. On Monday night, the quarterback faced the Vikings at CenturyLink Field.

“Pete Carroll called right before they drafted Wilson, and he said, ‘We’ve got this kid from Wisconsin. Have you seen him play? I haven’t studied him yet. What you think of him? Our scouts tell me he’s not very tall,’’’ Grant said.

“I said, ‘Well, how tall is he?’ He said, ‘He’s not 6-foot? How tall was (Fran) Tarkenton. I said, ‘Tarkenton was 5-10 and three quarters and he owned (at one point) every passing record in the NFL.’ … I told him it’s not how tall you are, it’s how good you are, and it was no hindrance to Tarkenton.’’

After the Seahawks selected the 5-11 Wilson, he immediately became the starter. And each time Grant sees Wilson play he is reminded of Tarkenton, the hall of fame quarterback who also was a third-round pick and led the Vikings to three Super Bowls in the 1970s under Grant.

Like Tarkenton was, Wilson is mobile and known for his scrambling.

“There are comparable things,’’ Grant said. “Wilson gains time a lot. If somebody’s not open, he moves away well. Tarkenton used to do the same thing.

“The reason Tarkenton moved around a lot is because he was only 5-10 and three quarters. Wilson is the same height and they move because they’ve got these 300-pound guys in front of you and they’re 6-4, 6-5, and you can’t see. So, you move right or left or back so you can see to throw the ball.’’

Wilson entered Monday’s game 5-0 against the Vikings, including a 10-9 win in the 2015 playoffs. But that game ended up being remembered more for what Grant did than what Wilson accomplished.

The temperature for kickoff at TCF Bank Stadium was minus-6, tying it for the third-coldest game in NFL history. Nevertheless, Grant came out for the coin toss wearing a short-sleeve shirt.

“I got a call (Monday) morning from a guy I hunted with years ago and he said, ‘I haven’t talked to you in a while but I still remember when you went out on the field in a short-sleeve shirt,’’’ Grant said. “It’s something that I hear about all the time.’’

Grant said it was something he decided to do at the “spur of the moment” to fire up the crowd.

“They asked me to go out for the coin toss and that’s a symbolic thing,’’ Grant said. “You walk out and you walk off and what do you do? So I thought, ‘What could I do to juice this thing up a little bit?’ So I took my coat off and put on a short-sleeve shirt. It wasn’t a grandstand play. It was more of an acknowledgment of the weather and this is Minnesota.’’

The fans sure loved it.

“I walked out and the roar went up,’’ Grant said. “When I was on the field, I had never heard such a roar at any game we had ever played or for any touchdown we had ever scored.’’


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