Sunday, March 23, 2014

Review of "I Did It My Way"

As a fan of all Minnesota sports teams my entire life, I was naturally excited to pick up a copy of the memoirs of legendary Vikings coach Bud Grant.   I was expecting a lot from this book, and was very happy that it delivered on everything I wanted and then some.  Here is my review of "I Did It My Way." 

“I Did It My Way: A Remarkable Journey to the Hall of Fame” by Bud Grant and Jim Bruton

American Football, Canadian Football, professional, coaching, autobiography, Vikings

September 1, 2013

288 pages

5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

Bud Grant is a legend to Minnesota sports fans, so when I saw that he wrote an autobiography I immediately picked up a copy.  I was hoping to not only read about his time coaching the Vikings, but also more about his time in the Canadian Football League, his playing days and what he has done since coaching. Those were all covered, but there is a lot more to the book than that, and it is some of those stories that make this an outstanding book.

No matter what topic is discussed, Grant writes much like he coached - he stated his view or point, talked about the important aspects to either give credence to the story or explain his opinion, and then moved onto the next topic.  He stated several times during the book that he would not dwell too much on games that were lost or players that left the team because he felt that it did not help to dwell on the mistakes if the team was to move forward.  He wrote the book with that concept in mind, as there is not a lot of reflection on the four Super Bowl losses by the Vikings during his tenure or other tough losses.  Instead, he talks a lot about the great players he coached such as Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman and Alan Page.  Vikings fans who followed the team during this time will recall fondly those players who were the stars of the team’s heyday.

There were several “firsts” that Grant accomplished during his sports career as both a player and a coach that are covered in this book. One of these are becoming the first “hardship” case when he left the University of Minnesota’s basketball team to play professionally for the Minneapolis Lakers.  Many readers may not know that Grant was a fine athlete, excelling in basketball and baseball as well as football. He also talks about the Vikings running the “West Coast” offense in the 1970’s before the San Francisco 49’ers did, giving it that moniker. His writing comes across as prideful yet not boastful when covering these topics.

However, I believed some of the best sections of this book were not about his playing or coaching career.  His account of how his family got through the tough economic times was fascinating reading (I won’t give away too many details of that.) His chapters on animals and the outdoors are also well written.

But the best chapter was chapter 3 when he describes his ordeal when he was caught outside during the famous Armistice Day blizzard of 1940.  An avid hunter and fisherman since he was a young boy, Grant was hunting when the storm suddenly arrived and the tale of what he did to survive that storm and ensure his hunting companions were safe was nothing short of incredible.  That chapter alone makes the book worth the time to read.

This is an outstanding book written by a legendary coach that captures his life in the same manner as he coached his football teams.  It covers many topics and aspects of the man’s life in an even-keeled manner and comes across as sincere, not boastful or regretful.  Readers who are sports fans, especially Minnesota sports fans, will love this book.

Did I skim?

Pace of the book: 
Very good. The book does follow a true timeline and does not skip much. There are times Grant will go off on a tangent with a related story, but these are infrequent and short – it doesn’t steer off course for too long.

Do I recommend? 
Pro football fans will like this book, especially Minnesota Vikings fans. Also, those who enjoy the outdoors will like Grant’s chapters on hunting and animals in general. Something for many tastes.

Book Format Read:
e-book (Kindle)

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