MINNEAPOLIS -- Before he became one of three coaches to win both a national championship and a Super Bowl, before he replaced Bill Parcells and preceded Bill Belichick in New England, Pete Carroll's momentous coaching career included a stint working for another legend.
Carroll's second year in the NFL was in 1985, when Bud Grant was brought out of retirement to replace Les Steckel as Minnesota Vikings coach. Grant hired Carroll to be his defensive backs coach, and Carroll stayed in the same role when Jerry Burns -- Grant's longtime offensive coordinator -- succeeded Grant as the head coach.
When the Vikings fired Burns after the 1991 season, Carroll was working for the New York Jets as Bruce Coslet's defensive coordinator. He was in strong consideration to replace Burns, before the Vikings hired Dennis Green. Now, Carroll will make just his third trip to Minnesota for a game since he coached there.
"They were five great years for me, growing up as a young coach in the league," Carroll said. "Bud gave me a chance to get back in; I had started with Buffalo, got fired my first year, got back in with the Vikings and kind of got settled into the league. Having a chance to be with 'Burnsie' and Paul Wiggin and all the guys we worked with, and having a chance to visit with Bud whenever I could get to him, he was always really gracious. I had a blast listening to the stories, and trying to gain his perspective when he would share it. It was a very, very rich time for me growing as a coach."
Both Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Everson Griffen played for Carroll at USC, and Carroll spoke fondly of his time with both players this week. And while the forecast for Sunday calls for unseasonably warm temperatures in the low 40s, there'll be enough of a chill in the air to evoke fond memories of Carroll's mentor.
"I'm glad we're getting a chance to play outside there, just because of all the days I missed at the Met," Carroll said. "We were in the Dome the whole time, and I know we're not getting all the weather that can be had there, but I think the Vikings were always known back in the days, when Bud was there, for playing in the freezing cold and all that stuff. Getting a chance to play them outdoors is good."