Wednesday, September 2, 2015

zygi wilf

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

According to reports from the Star Tribune’s Rochelle Olson, the Minnesota Vikings’ owners have signed a purchase agreement for 185 acres in Eagan, Minnesota.  The land could potentially move the team’s corporate headquarters and practice facility from their current home of Winter Park in Eden Prairie.

The Vikings opened Winter Park 34 years ago, and the facility is beginning to show its age. In a May article for the Tribune, Olson described the team’s current offices and practice facilities as “lagging by NFL standards,” specifically pointing to a “dearth of meeting places for executives and players” and coaches’ offices that are “squat, claustrophobic cubbies with little space for much more than a desk.”

For a team with a new stadium opening in less than a year, it’s only fitting that officials begin to identify and develop headquarters that will match the grandeur of their new Sunday home. Shortly after Olson’s story broke, the Vikings released an official statement on the purchase:

“As we have previously discussed, the existing Winter Park training facility poses space and flexibility challenges for the Vikings as we continue to grow and evolve,” said Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren. “While we are evaluating a variety of options to accommodate the long-term needs of our football team and the organization at-large, this property is intriguing for several reasons. Not only does this location have tremendous space and flexibility for future growth, but it also offers proximity to both Minneapolis and St. Paul downtowns, as well as the airport. With this agreement in place, we now have an opportunity to perform a thorough evaluation of the site. We continue to appreciate our strong relationship with the community of Eden Prairie and the positive environment the city’s leadership has created over the past 30-plus years.”

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

According to a report by the USA Today’s Tom Pelissero, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson flew to New York on Monday, where he met with owners Zygi and Mark Wilf and general manager Rick Spielman.

From Arif’s live blog regarding Tom Pelissero’s appearance on ESPN1500 radio:

“He [Pelissero] told Darren Wolfson that he has had conversations with people on the Vikings who would know and has walked away from some conversations confident that Adrian Peterson was going to be traded and other conversations where he was sure Peterson was going to stay. Yesterday, he had a conversation who was sold that Peterson was going to be traded to the Cardinals.”

The meeting appears to be a continuation of ongoing discussions with the star running back  — last week, head coach Mike Zimmer and Spielman traveled to Houston and discussed Peterson’s future at his Texas home.

It is extremely difficult to evaluate the Adrian Peterson situation in a vacuum where human emotions do not exist, but that is exactly what the Wilf Family and Rick Spielman will have to do in the near future.

I honestly believe that there are people within the Vikings organization that care for Adrian Peterson and regard him as much more as a football player.  I know that people I have worked with for a significant period of time often become more than just someone that uses the same letterhead as me, and I can’t imagine Peterson’s time at Winter Park has been anything different for many employees of the Minnesota Vikings.

I have speculated in the past that this very emotional human reaction played a role in the team’s initial decision to play Peterson after these allegations became public, but eventually the business side of the NFL trumped all else and the organization and the NFL did an about face.   Public outcry, coupled with sponsorships pulling their names, meant the Vikings had to send the NFL’s best running back to his couch for eight weeks.

The Wilf’s are business men, however, and never once did I expect them to release Peterson from his lucrative contract.  In the beginning of September, he was their single most valuable human resource, and you don’t get as rich as Zygi Wilf by selling stocks when they are at their lowest.  I expect the Vikings to employ this same basic principle of business in the coming weeks as they are forced to make a decision regarding Peterson’s status with the organization.

Translation:  I think Peterson will be on the field as soon as the NFL will allow it.

It is tough to pay a guy that much money without getting anything in return.  It is nearly impossible to trade a player in the offseason if you aren’t even willing to play him yourself.  It is quite difficult to recover the trade value that has been lost without letting Peterson take some handoffs and show the 31 other teams why he is still more than just a troubled running back.

Nothing makes any amount of business sense, at least from where I am sitting, other than getting Peterson back in pads as soon as possible.

I still think there are human elements at play here, but I fully expect the investment gurus within the Wilf Family to aggressively attempt to recover Peterson’s stock value, and I don’t think that will be motivated by anything other than a desire to increase the perceived value of employee number 28.

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With great popularity comes great responsibility… or something like that.

For whatever reason, the NFL seems to be a mainstream battleground for social debate fairly constantly these days, and this offseason seems to really be amassing the headlines of this nature.  Whether it be the wrongful termination accusations of Chris Kluwe, the domestic abuse case with Ray Rice, the draft placement of Michael Sam, the double standard that exists between player and owner conduct, or the offensive nickname of one football franchise.

As far as I can remember, I have never once written about that last topic, as the Washington Redskins nickname is not really Vikings related and this is a Vikings blog.  Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum found an intelligent way to raise awareness of the issue in Minnesota, however, and dropped a call for action squarely at the feet of Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.

The one promise Vikings’ GM Rick Spielman gave media and fans regarding the hiring of the next head coach was a willingness to conduct an extensive search that includes 13 different possible categories.

 Off the record, I’m betting one of those categories include looking at former Vikings’ coaches or former coaches that have served on the same staff with Rick Spielman. Former Vikings’ offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has already surfaced as a possible candidate to replace Leslie Frazier.

 So, I decided to do a little search to look for a few under-the-radar names that might have a connection to Spielman or the Vikings. My search also includes consideration to any connections to a possible future franchise quarterback that the Vikings might be scouting in the 2014 NFL draft. This is what I found.

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