MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – August 2, 2022 – The Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation is pleased to announce that NFL legend Paul Wiggin will receive this year’s Bud Grant Distinguished Minnesotan Award. Wiggin, a current pro personnel consultant for the Minnesota Vikings, is set to be recognized during this summer’s Minnesota Football Honors show.
“Not many people have left a larger mark on football at the local, regional and national levels than Paul Wiggin. Over the past six decades, Paul has impacted countless lives as a coach, talent evaluator and administrator,” said Todd Fultz, President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation. “Paul is widely respected across the football industry and continues to use his experience to influence the next generation of players, coaches and executives within the Vikings organization. We are so thrilled to honor him with this award.”
Paul Wiggin has spent nearly six decades around football as a player, coach and administrator at the college and professional levels. Wiggin, a two-time First Team All-American and First Team All-Pac-10 defensive tackle, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees while playing at Stanford. Paul became a dominant force on the field and was named Stanford’s Defensive Player of the Century through fan voting. Wiggin’s outstanding football achievements also placed him among the all-time greats in college football history. Paul was enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
Following Wiggin’s Stanford career, he played in the East-West Shrine Game (1956) and the Hula Bowl (1957). Wiggin showcased his talent in those games and was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round of the 1956 NFL Draft. Paul played 11 seasons at defensive end and never missed a single game. Wiggin appeared in 146 consecutive regular season games, which stood as the team record when he retired. During his NFL career, Paul accumulated numerous team and personal accolades, including Browns Outstanding Defensive Player (1963), Browns Player of the Year (1966) and Cleveland Pro Athlete of the Year (1967) honors. Wiggin also played in three NFL World Championship title games and started two Pro Bowls.
Shortly after he retired from football in 1968, Wiggin became the defensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers. He was part of a staff that guided San Francisco to three straight division titles (1970-72) and a pair of NFC Championships. In 1974, Wiggin was promoted to defensive coordinator under 49ers head coach Dick Nolan. One year after leading a defense that accumulated the sixth-most takeaways in the league, Paul earned his first head coaching opportunity. Wiggin was named head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1975 and picked up his first career NFL win during a 42-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
Wiggin spent three years in Kansas City before serving as the New Orleans Saints’ defensive coordinator in 1978 and 1979. Prior to Paul and the staff’s arrival in New Orleans, the Saints had not won more than five games in any of their previous 11 seasons. That quickly changed though. While Wiggin was leading the Saints’ defense, they posted seven wins in 1978 and eight in 1979.
Wiggin led New Orleans’ defense for two seasons before accepting the head coaching job at his alma mater, Stanford University. During his first three years leading the Cardinal, Paul oversaw the development of future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway.
Wiggin spent four seasons leading Stanford’s program before returning to the NFL in 1985. That year, Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant hired Paul as the team’s new defensive line coach. During Wiggin’s seven seasons in that role, the Vikings led the league in total defense twice. Minnesota also advanced to the 1987 NFC Championship game before losing 17-10 to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Washington Redskins. Additionally, in 1989, the Vikings posted 71 sacks, which was the second-highest single-season total in NFL history. Defensive end Chris Doleman led the league with 21 sacks, while defensive tackle Keith Millard added 18. In addition to Doleman and Millard, Wiggin also helped develop Pro Bowl defensive tackles Henry Thomas and John Randle.
In his latest role as a pro personnel consultant with the Vikings, Wiggin works closely with the department that is responsible for evaluation of all NFL players and advance scouting of Minnesota’s future opponents. Wiggin has served in various roles within the Vikings organization for the past 34-plus years. He and his wife, Carolynn, have been married for 65 years. They have three daughters - Kymberly, Kristyn and Kellie - and eight grandchildren.
Minnesota Football Honors is hosting a show to honor this year’s high school, college and Minnesota Vikings award winners. An official broadcast date will be announced soon on www.minnesotafootballhonors.com.
About the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation:
The Minnesota Chapter of The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame is a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote amateur football’s ability to develop leadership, sportsmanship, competitive spirit and academic excellence in Minnesota’s young people. The Minnesota Chapter recognizes legendary football icons, college football Hall of Famers and Minnesota’s top high school and college football scholar athletes. For more information, visit www.nffmn.org, or Facebook (@MNFootballHonors) and Twitter (@NFFMN).
Todd Fultz, President - MN Chapter of the National Football Foundation
Daniel House, Director of Media Relations and Content
MN Chapter of The National Football Foundation