Monday, August 31, 2015

mark wilf

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The Vikings announced Wednesday afternoon that they have reached an agreement with Minnesota State University, Mankato to hold training camp on campus for at least another three years.

It seems appropriate that the extension would come about in the 50th anniversary of holding camp in Mankato.

“It’s been wonderful to celebrate 50 years of Vikings training camp on our campus this summer,” said the University’s president, Dr. Richard Davenport. “We look forward to the Vikings being here during the University’s 150th year anniversary celebration.”

Minnesota State University original began as Mankato Normal School in 1868. The school changed its name to Mankato State University in 1975, and in 1995 it took on its current namesake when the seven state universities were transferred to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system by the state legislature.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

I’ve been away from Vikings Territory for a week, and man, does it feel good to be back behind the keyboard. To those who stuck with me through the work tweets and barrage of conference photos — thank you. I’ll return your investment by providing what I know best; Minnesota Vikings news and analysis!

Earlier today, the team announced the name of their new stadium, awarding rights to U.S. Bank for the next 20 years. Once the 2016 season begins, the Vikings will play all home games in U.S. Bank Stadium, which is more than halfway complete. The Vikings also announced their “Places to Play” program, a multi-year, $1,000,000, statewide investment into locations for Minnesota youth to play.

The partnership with U.S. Bank signals a commitment to improving the quality of life in Minnesota and providing the community with one of the nation’s most impressive multi-use stadiums. After the press release, Vikings owner and president Mark Wilf commented on the deal:

“On behalf of the entire Minnesota Vikings organization, we would like to thank Richard and the 67,000 U.S. Bank employees for their belief in, and support of, the Vikings and this new stadium and for the commitment they make in the economic and social well-being of Minnesota and its citizens every day.”

Things are looking up for the Vikings, huh? Let’s see how things are going elsewhere in the NFC North:

If you wanted to read every word said or written by Chris Kluwe over the last few days, then you have certainly had your work cut out for you, as it seems like he has found the time to speak with just about every media outlet north of the equator.  With that being said, if you are going to read just one, make sure it is Tom Pelissero’s (we miss you, Tom) one-on-one with Kluwe at USA Today.

Kluwe has not backed down from the allegation he let loose on Deadspin two days ago, insisting that special teams coach Mike Priefer had Kluwe cut due to bigotry.  I think you are all aware that I think Kluwe was cut for other reasons, but I also don’t think Kluwe is a liar.  The Vikings are attempting to find out.

The Vikings announced yesterday that they have returned two big-time lawyers to oversee an investigation.  Their statement:

The Minnesota Vikings have retained two partners of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. to complete an independent review of yesterday’s allegations by Chris Kluwe.

Former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Chris Madel will lead the investigation.

“It is extremely important for the Vikings organization to react immediately and comprehensively with an independent review of these allegations,” said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf.

Magnuson, who is currently a partner at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. and teaches at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, is highly-regarded in Minnesota and throughout the country. He has more than 35 years of practice, including over two years (2008-10) as the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Madel is the Chair of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P.’s Government and Internal Investigations Group, and has led numerous high-profile investigations, including the extensively publicized internal investigation of the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. Madel has also been selected as the Minnesota Lawyer’s “Attorney of the Year” for 2011, 2012, and 2013, and is the first attorney to win the award for three consecutive years.

“This is a highly sensitive matter that we as an organization will address with integrity,” said Vikings Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Warren. “Eric and Chris have stellar reputations in both the local and national legal community. They have handled numerous cases involving a wide range of issues, and we are confident they will move swiftly and fairly in completing this investigation.”

Robins, Kaplan’s investigation has already begun and will include interviews with current and former members of the Vikings organization.

While I understand the need for the Vikings to conduct this investigation, with a major blow to their image hanging in the balance, I personally think this whole thing has gotten a little out of hand.  I think Kluwe is hypocritical and misguided in his assumptions, in his assessment as to why he was cut, and NFL history is all the evidence a courtroom should need to give Priefer the benefit of the doubt.

Last offseason, Kluwe was not the only contract-year player put in a tough spot, especially after Rick Spielman publicly declared his intent to create a youth movement within the Vikings roster.

Kevin Williams was forced to take a paycut and a year off his contract, with Sharrif Floyd being drafted in the first round as his presumptive replacement.  Antoine Winfield was released due to his high salary number and age, with Xavier Rhodes being drafted to help the team try and account for his departure.  Percy Harvin, also entering his contract season, was traded to Seattle with Cordarrelle Patterson being drafted to fill the void left by Harvin both on offense and within Preifer’s return unit.

If you think an NFL punter isn’t replaceable then you haven’t been paying attention.  If you think an expensive, regressing, injured and aging punter can’t isn’t expendable then you really haven’t been paying attention.  Moves are made in professional sports, particularly in the NFL, all the time that resemble exactly what happened to Kluwe.  In fact, more often than not a player is released or traded before his contract is up, that is just part of the business.

Kluwe, a full season after his release, still seems genuinely floored that he wasn’t allowed to play out his contract.

If his surprise is real, then he has certainly not been paying attention.

Co-Owner of the Minnesota Vikings, Mark Wilf, took time this weekend to try and squash rumors that the Vikings had, at some point, pursued Bill Parcells to run their football team.

He went as far as to say that the reported event “never happened” and then went on to gush about the man they hired, Rick Spielman.

“From A to Z, he has all the tools you need to run a football operation,” Wilf said Saturday. “We felt he was the perfect choice to be our general manager. Rick has the ability to follow through on a plan. He’s disciplined, but will be aggressive when he has to. It’s a plan that we’re all comfortable with. We’re following his lead.”

Look, I’m not calling Mark Wilf a liar, but even if they had been in talks before settling on Spielman what else is he going to say at this point in time?  Whether or not the Vikings talked to any other candidates will have no impact on how the owners talk publicly about Spielman now that he is their man.

After all, with the most important Vikings Draft in recent memory right around the corner, we wouldn’t want to see season ticket holders lose whatever faith they might have in this organization’s ability to turn things around.

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