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Hartman: Wilfs Confident In Vikings Offseason Plan

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 9, 2012 – 7:08 am

Whether pursuing a stadium solution to keep the team in Minnesota for generations or acquiring players in an attempt to field a winning team, the Wilf ownership group has spared no expense since taking over the club in 2005. They’ve been aggressive-but-responsible stewards of the franchise, and they remain popular among the fan base because of that.

What’s not necessarily been popular among the fan base, though, is the Vikings offseason approach. Coming off a 3-13 season, fans want to see instant improvement via the acquisition of big-name free agents that demand big-money contracts. Under the direction of GM Rick Spielman, however, the Vikings have taken a more calculated and long-term approach to rebuilding the team, choosing to build the foundation of the team through the draft while supplementing the roster via free agency.

And it’s a strategy the Wilfs endorse.

“We’re building through the draft and building in free agency in spots where it’s needed,” Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf told the Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman. “But we want to do it the right way, and I think we’re on that process. We’re going to get ten draft picks coming up in a few weeks, and we’re going to get a lot better through that.”

The Vikings had 10 draft choices last year, and nine of those selections remain a part of the team. A similar success rate this year, including hits early in the draft with 6 selections in the first 4 rounds, will go a long way toward improving the roster.

While Spielman’s approach is to lean on the draft as the main mechanism for acquiring talented players, Wilf told Hartman that the team is ready to write the check if the right free agent comes along.

“We’re looking every day to get better, whatever opportunity will present itself,” Wilf said. “We’re not going to rule out anything, but we’ve got a process we’re going through and we’re going to do things in a way that’s thought out with a plan, strategically, so we can be successful in the long term. If our general manager and our coach feel that a player is going to help us win, we will provide the resources to help us win, but we’re going to do it the right way.”


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Wilf Ownership Group Seeking Clarity, Consistency In Naming Spielman GM

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 4, 2012 – 7:36 am

From the moment the Wilf family purchased the Vikings, they made clear their desire and intention to bring championship-caliber football to Minnesota. Through back-to-back division titles, a NFC title game appearances, losing seasons and winning seasons, the Wilfs and the Vikings organization remain on that quest.

On Tuesday, the Wilfs made a significant adjustment to the Vikings organizational structure by naming Rick Spielman as the team’s GM. It’s a move the Wilfs believe will help the Vikings achieve their primary goal – winning Super Bowls.

“We gave a lot of thought to the whole process,” Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf said. “But knowing Rick and his body of work, and working with him so closely over the years, we felt that he was the right person for this position. We’re very confident that he and Leslie together will bring us the goal that we and all the fans want – that’s championships.”

Spielman has been with the club since May of 2006 as VP of Player Personnel, with the responsibility of overseeing the club’s pro and college scouting departments. In his new role, though, Spielman’s charge is to oversee all football-related activities and operations as well as the pro and college scouting departments.

Coming off consecutive 6-10 and 3-13 seasons, the Wilfs felt a new protocol and method of operation was needed to put the team in position to succeed. There was no one or two events that transpired recently that prompted the Wilf ownership group to alter its organizational structure. Rather, the Wilfs surveyed the NFL landscape to see what has worked for other clubs and cross-referenced that with what they felt would work well in Minnesota.

“It was a process over several months, through the season,” Wilf said. “As we got toward the end of the year, and we feel going forward to the future, looking at what’s successful in the League, and what we need to do to get better, there needs to be more consistency, purpose and accountability that needs to be more clarified. I do think we have the right people, and we sat together as ownership and felt that this structure had to be clarified.”

“Most importantly,” Zygi Wilf added, “it’s a long-term solution for the franchise. As Mark said, we’ve been successful in the past, but we felt that for the long-term progress and success of the ballclub, that the model that existed for successful teams (around the NFL) is the model we would follow.”

Building and maintaining a successful organizational structure and model is nothing new for the Wilf family. Zygi Wilf leads an ownership group with the Vikings that closely mirrors the structure that has led the Wilf family to national prominence in their business ventures with Garden Homes Development, a nationwide leader in retail, commercial and private residential development.

“We wanted to take a hard look at how we can be better,” Wilf said. “And we wanted to establish a clear organizational structure, and a consistency and purpose moving forward. We feel this is the structure and the move we need to make to get better as a football team and win championships.”


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C John Sullivan Signs Contract Extension With Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 17, 2011 – 3:16 pm

One of the biggest offseason priorities for the Vikings is no longer a priority. The team and C John Sullivan have agreed to a contract extension that will keep the 4-year veteran in Minnesota for the foreseeable future. Exact terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

“We are very excited about the future of John Sullivan,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said. “He has quickly become a leader among the offensive linemen. John is having an outstanding 2011 season and he is a big part of why our rushing attack is near the top in the NFL. We are thrilled about having John as a member of the Minnesota Vikings for years to come.”

Sullivan was drafted by the Vikings in the 6th round of the 2008 NFL Draft and has worked his way from special teams player and reserve lineman as a rookie, to the starting center on the 2009 team that went to the NFC Championship, to now being one of the best and most consistent performers along the line. Sullivan, 26 years old and a product of the University of Notre Dame, has appeared in 58 games, with 42 starts.

This contract extension will keep the battery of Sullivan and rookie QB Christian Ponder together, as the team tries to strengthen a young offensive nucleus that already includes Percy Harvin, Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph.

Congratulations to Sullivan and the Vikings on getting this deal accomplished before the offseason. Keeping Sullivan in Minnesota is a good deal for both parties.

Statements from the Wilfs
“John embodies a true Minnesota Viking, on and off the field. He is a valuable member to our team and a key part of our future. This is a big moment for John, and the Minnesota Vikings, we are very pleased a deal has been reached.”  – Mark Wilf

“Over the last four years, John has contributed in countless ways to the Vikings organization.  He has been very active in the community along with being a key member along our offensive line. John is a bright young man and we are fortunate to have him in the Vikings organization.”   – Zygi Wilf


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Mankato Remains Home To Verizon Vikings Training Camp

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 25, 2011 – 2:37 pm

There was a time when it looked as if Mankato-based training camp would fall victim to the NFL work stoppage. Fortunately, the NFL and the NFLPA came to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in time to save training camp for the Vikings.

The Vikings announced on Monday, just hours after the NFL and NFLPA reached agreement on a new CBA, that the team would head down to Minnesota State University, Mankato for training camp, marking the 46th consecutive year that Mankato has hosted training camp.

“Hosting the Vikings training camp is an integral part of our community,” said Mankato Mayor Eric Anderson. “For two weeks, our hotels, restaurants and bars are filled with thousands of Vikings fans. The citizens and businesses of Mankato welcome those fans back in 2011 and moving forward.”

According to the Greater Mankato Convention & Visitors Bureau, approximately 60,000 fans from 28 states, Canada, England and over 100 different Minnesota cities attended last year’s training camp. The annual event has an estimated $5 million economic impact on the Mankato community.

WR Percy Harvin greets fans at Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato after an evening scrimmage during camp

 

Credit goes to the city of Mankato and Minnesota State University, Mankato for their patience with the NFL’s labor process. Mankato and the University are great hosts each and every year. Credit also goes to Vikings ownership, the front office and head coach Leslie Frazier because they realized the value in having training camp in Mankato, both for the community there and for the organization.

“We wanted to prolong our decision as long as possible in an effort to maintain our training camp tradition of practicing in front of Vikings fans in Mankato” said Vikings Owner and President Mark Wilf. “The Vikings appreciate the patience and flexibility shown by Minnesota State University and the Mankato community in making this work, and we look forward to returning to our training camp home in August.”

Monday has been filled with a bunch of good news, and the announcement that the training camp tradition of practicing in front of fans in Mankato is perhaps the best news of all.


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An Exciting Day For The Vikings Concludes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 3, 2011 – 6:15 pm

As disappointing as the 2010 season was for the Vikings, January 3 of 2011 represents an even brighter moment for the franchise’s future. Leslie Frazier was named head coach and he’ll look to guide the Vikings back to success.

The announcement came around 2:00 p.m. today and was followed by a 4:15 p.m. press conference that saw Zygi Wilf introduce Frazier as head coach. In introducing Frazier, Mr. Wilf mentioned that the Vikings new head coach is a natural leader and possesses the qualities necessary to be a successful head coach in the NFL.

Frazier then spoke with reporters and projected his excitement and ambition for his new job. Frazier said being an NFL head coach is a dream come true and he said the Vikings represented the perfect situation for him. This is significant because Frazier has been a candidate for several other head coaching jobs in recent seasons, so he’s seen the gamut of situations. He thinks the situation in Minnesota is one in which he can be successful.

Following the press conference, both Frazier and Mark Wilf stepped into Sports Authority Studios for chats. We’ll have those posted on vikings.com for you tomorrow. Frazier also spent time with Twin Cities media outlets and both Zygi and Mark Wilf met with a small group of reporters.

That basically caps what’s been an exciting day at Winter Park. Be sure to check out vikings.com and now and tomorrow to watch Monday’s press conference in on-demand format as well as those interviews with Frazier and Mark Wilf. Tomorrow we’ll have more coverage and reaction of Frazier being named head coach as well as our normal postseason coverage.

For now, goodnight from Winter Park.


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Vikings Reaction To Moss Addition Pours In

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 6, 2010 – 12:52 pm

Reaction to the Vikings acquisition of Randy Moss will likely continue to trickle in, so rather than come up with creative paragraphs to introduce each quote, we’re just going to compile a working list of quotes.

We’ll begin with a new one from RB Adrian Peterson, and then include the thoughts we’ve already placed on other parts of the site. As new players chime in, we’ll add their quote to the top of this list.

Mark Wilf: “This is an exciting day for the Vikings organization and our fans. Randy has a special place in this organization’s history and we’re looking forward to his contributions going forward. It’s important to add good football players to the roster whenever possible, and with Randy we feel that’s exactly what we’ve done. We welcome him back to the team.”

Jared Allen: “Awesome. That’s the only way to describe it. He’s a heck of a player. That guy is a beast.”

Antoine Winfield: “I’m excited. I played one year with him here (2004) and he’s a great teammate. He’ll be great for our locker room. And he still has the skillset to get the job done.”

Adrian Peterson: “It’s a great move getting Randy Moss in here. We’ve just been missing something and I think he can give us another threat down the field. The opportunity to play with a guy like Randy Moss, one of the best wide receivers to ever play the game, that’s a chance that doesn’t come along every day. I’ve always been a fan of his and still am to this day. To have a chance to perform on the field with him and the talent that we have gathered here is pretty amazing.”

Brett Favre: “This is an exciting move, I think everybody feels that in the locker room. It’s rare you get to play with a future Hall of Famer and get to appreciate their talents up close. Randy Moss is a great player and his career speaks for itself. I’ve admired him from a distance for a long time and you can’t help but be impressed by the guy.”

Kevin Williams: “I think everybody was a little surprised when they heard the news, but I think it’s a good move. It will give us a spark and open some things up. Randy’s a guy who has always worked at his craft and I think that has showed over his whole career. He’s been successful and been a part of winning a lot of games. He’s one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever played with and I’m happy to have him back with us.”

Brad Childress: “We feel very good about the opportunity to add a player of Randy Moss’ caliber to this football team. He is a tremendous competitor and was an integral member of the Vikings organization from 1998-2004. Once again, ownership was completely supportive of our efforts to add a valuable football player to our team. I know the entire organization is thrilled to welcome him back to the Twin Cities and look forward to his contributions.”


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Vikings Invite Local Kids to Training Camp for Food, Fun

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 3, 2010 – 7:04 am

It’s been a busy 5 days of training camp for the Vikings on the field, but that hasn’t stopped the club from continuing its community initiatives off the field.

After Monday morning’s practice, the Vikings invited 60 local kids to enjoy a VIP viewing of Vikings training camp and share a healthy lunch with Vikings players as the team wrapped up the 2010 Vikings Children’s Fund Summer Lunch Program, which was presented by Target. In addition, Second Harvest Heartland presented Vikings Owner Mark Wilf with a Hunger Hero Award, an award the organization initiated this spring to recognize its charitable partners who demonstrate an extraordinary effort to meet the unprecedented need for emergency food.

Several Vikings players, such as WR Bernard Berrian, P Chris Kluwe and RB Adrian Peterson, were also on-hand to interact with the kids.

The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program provides free meals at pre-approved meal sites to hungry children during the summer, but participation in the program is extremely low. In fact, while approximately 293,000 Minnesota school children receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year, only about 20 percent of them receive meals during the summer.

The 2010 Vikings Children’s Fund Summer Lunch Program, Presented by Target, is helping to provide up to 500,000 additional meals for hungry Minnesota children this summer through a $300,000 donation that has helped increase visibility of the Summer Food Service Program and meal sites around the state. ConAgra Foods pledged an additional $100,000 to the program to support current Summer Food Service Program sponsors and sites.

Last year, the Vikings Children’s Fund Summer Lunch Program secured more than 200,000 additional summer meals for kids in need and this year the program is being supported by an innovative visibility campaign that has been recognized as a national model by the USDA.


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Zygi Wilf Addresses Reporters

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 18, 2009 – 6:55 pm

The man literally responsible for getting QB Brett Favre to Minnesota today spoke to reporters following the introductory press conference.

The effort to land Favre was collaborative among the front office and Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress, but when the time came to actually get Favre to Minnesota, ownership stepped in.

“My brother, myself and my son went down to Hattiesburg to pick up Brett and his wife,” Wilf said. “We had a great conversation coming up here and realized what a down-to-earth person he was. And we realized more so than ever that he’ll be a great fit for our team.

“We felt the opportunity was now to do it,” Wilf said. “We did not want to go in the future and say ‘What if?’ In speaking to Brett, he felt the same way. I think the fans and everyone should be quite excited about how our team keeps improving. We will do our best to fight for our division and hopefully be that consistent championship-caliber ball club that we hope to become.”


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Vikings Ownership Tours Lucas Oil Stadium

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 14, 2009 – 6:14 pm

Vikings owners Zygi, Mark and Lenny Wilf, along with various other members of the Vikings front office and staff, toured Lucas Oil Stadium prior to tonight’s game. Colts Senior VP Pete Ward gave the tour, which included a viewing of the stadiums several suite levels and Lucas Oil Plaza.

The Colts are entering their 2nd year in Lucas Oil Stadium, and the facility is impressive. As the tour was going on, the stadium’s roof was being retracted and the group enjoyed a view of downtown Indianapolis through a panel that was opened on one end of the stadium.

We’ll have a more comprehensive report of the stadium tour later this week on vikings.com, including video footage.


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Zygi Excited to Defend Division Championship

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2009 – 6:12 pm

Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf have been in Mankato the past couple of days to watch their team open training camp, the 4th camp under their stewardship and the 1st time they’ve opened a season as the reigning division champions. Zygi took several minutes today to interupt his practice watching to speak with local reporters, and vikings.com was there to listen in on what the Vikings owner had to say.

The conversation began when Wilf was asked about his reaction to how the Brett Favre situation ended. Wilf reiterated the message Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress conveyed earlier in the week, saying they had no regrets looking at a Hall of Famer and that they were very happy with the current players on the roster.

“It’s very exciting being out here, to be coming back this season as division champs,” Wilf said. “The talent out there is great and the competition is going to be great. We look forward to a great season this year; there are a lot of things to look forward to.”

From Wilf to Childress to any player that has been asked about camp so far, the theme has been competition and how much of it will exist at this year’s camp. In addition to the intra-squad competition for 53 roster spots, the Vikings are also excited to compete with those outside of their club. Most notably, they are exited to be able to defend a division title in 2009.

“I have great expectations,” Wilf explained. “Again, we fought hard last year, came back many times when people doubted us and we did it with different combinations with different guys injured. To have those guys come back healthy for the most part and be able to start off the season as division champs, we look forward to holding onto that and doing better things.”


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