Bud Grant sat on a flagstone planter at the Baltimore Inn and shopping complex Friday as relaxed and resigned as any man wearied by a wife in hot pursuit of bargains.
If Grant, the coach of the Minnesote Vikings, is indeed. "Old Stone-face," he must be the Mona Lisa of mejaphorical Sculpture, because he can manage the hint of a smile that betrays his steely thoughts at the
Wasn't he afraid of having his players' concentration on the upcoming preseason game with the Baltimore mere mention of George Allen.
Colts diluted by close contact with all the outsiders?
"Heck, no," he said. "It helps kill the time waiting for a night game. If we hadn't stayed out here (at Cross Keys), we would have stayed right downtown."
He volunteered the unsolicited comparison, "We're not like George" to the visitor from Washington, insinuating he knew that Allen likes to keep his Redskins in the boonies.
"These are grown men," Grant added, "not schoolboys."
The coach was asked to recall his reaction to the national scorn heaped on the Vikings after losing an unconscionably fourth Super Bowl, to the Oaland Paiders.
"You don't look back after any losing game," Grant said. "Life goes on, I don't want to sound mercenary, but we have earned more money from playoffs than any other team. We have never losta (conference) championship game: we have never lost when a Super Bowl berth was on the line. People are forgetting how long it took the Raiders to get back into second Super Bowl."
How could the Vikings, as is their custom, dare to be the last team to go to training camp?
"These days, the veterans come to camp in better shape than the others: the older veterans come in the best shape.
"We play our veterans as early as possible. The rookies have to prove they are capable in practice. We don't want to lose a game because a rookie doesn't know what he is doing. We don't want to get someone else hurt because the rookie did something wrong.
"Tommy Kramer, our No. 1 draft choice, did not play in our first two games.We like to wait until we have an occasion which will make him look good."
Friday night, Kramer, out of the Rice University, got in the game, won by Baltimore, 29.7. after the Colts' "varsity" went to the sidelines. He completed two of four passes for 21 yards and also was welcomed to pro football with a jarring sack.
Paul Krause started in the loss to the Colts, although the Vikings have acquired Bill Bradley from the Eagles, Wes Hamilton, a second-year guard, played in place of holdout Ed White, but the coach said, "Ed will be along one of these days. Where else can he make the kind of money he earns with us?"
Grant says he rarely makes a change in the lineup once it is set in the preseason and therefore is appeared to be significant that four season veteran Fred McNeill started at linebacker in place of 45-year-old. 13-season veteran Wally Hilgenberg and second-year defensive tackle James White in place of 32-year-old, Alan Page, who had a disappointing Super Bowl game.
Grant explained away the Page situation: "Alan has been practicing only on weekends, because he has been going to law school. But he's finished now. We might not permit another player to do that but we know what Page can do. He's going to be all right." (Page first came to the Vikings' camp from Notre Dame at 280 pounds. He is now 223).
As to suggestions in the media that Grant is staying too long with 39-year-old defensive end Jim Marshall and 35-year-old defensive end Carl Eller, the coach said, "Moose has never been in better shape. We had been taking it easy with Marshall because he had some bone chips removed from his ankle."
Both made some good plays among some bad ones Friday, but Marshall left the game and had his ankle bandaged on the sideline.
And Fran Tarkenton's knee injury in the playoff game against the Redskins, which affected his pass and his monolity?
"It was nothing worse than the other players have all season. He's fine. He's easy to have on your team because he's still so enthusiastic. He needles the press and takes some needling, but even his closest rival at quarterback gets along fine with him because he recognizes he is nowhere near him yet in ability. He loves to play."
Grant asserted. "There are a lot of guys playing today only because of the money. They don't want to be playing, but because they were born with some talent, they can."
He was led into telling how much he earned as an end with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1951-1952.
"I was a No. 1 draft choice," he said, "but they offered me only $7,500 and we played both ways then. I was also playing with a championship Minnepolis Lakes basketball team and got oly $4,000 from them. The next year. I tried to get more from the Eagles, but had to take a $500 cut because they did not want me playing basketball."
Grant said he recently went to the Mayo Clinic for a routine check because he reached his 50th birthday.
"I was supposed to undergo two days of tests," he said, "but after the first day they told me not to bother coming back the second day."
Will his Viking be in the playoffs against the team coached by that other overachiever in medical test, George Allen, who has dropped ice cream from his diet.
"I hope so," Grant said, patting his flat stomach and saying he loses four or five pounds on the days he plays recquet ball with Jerry Reichow, coordinator for football operations.
"You'll haveto pardon me now. I'm going to get some ice cream."