2013 DRAFT GUIDE
Wilfs take low-profile route to leading Vikings

By JON KRAWCZYNSKI - AP Sports Writer
    2013-01-03 18:05

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - For Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, leadership isn't about doing interviews about the state of the organization.

It's about placing a symbolic arm around a heartbroken defensive end who suddenly and unexpectedly lost his mother during the season.

It's not about breaking down film and deciding which prospect should be chosen with the team's first-round draft pick. It's about sitting quietly in the room and listening while the people they hired to do that job debate the decision.

It's not about standing on the sideline in full view of the television cameras, so the country can see them slapping the backs of their players and congratulating the head coach. It's about retreating to the privacy of the locker room after the game and handing a necktie to the star of the day.

The understated approach has paid off this season with their Vikings surprising almost everyone to rebound from 3-13 to make the playoffs.

``Their approach works. It's good that they trust the people they hire to do their job as opposed to micromanaging the situation,'' Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said on Thursday. ``It's refreshing in a lot of ways.''

The Vikings (10-6) head to Lambeau Field on Saturday night for Episode III of their heated rivalry with the Green Bay Packers (11-5), less than a week after a 37-34 victory at the Metrodome that thrust them into the playoffs.

It's been a heck of a ride, with a 5-2 start preceding a stretch of four losses in five games that made every week a must-win in December.

The Vikings never panicked, taking cues from an ownership group that values patience and perspective in a league where the pendulum of emotion can swing wildly from one week to the next.

You won't see Zygi Wilf on the sideline on Saturday night and you won't hear him in the media during the frenetic buildup to this highly anticipated game - both Wilfs politely declined to speak for this story.

Now is not the time for them to be doing the talking, they said. It's the time when the focus should be on the players and coaches who have spearheaded this revival after two straight last-place finishes in the NFC North.

``Just like any family, when you go through ups and downs or different crises, it's unbelievable the relationship we have to discuss things openly and candidly,'' general manager Rick Spielman said. ``That's so important to how you get through things. It's not a business, even though it is a business. You can attribute a lot of success we're having to the atmosphere we get to work in.''

The gestures have been big and small this season, starting with sending Spielman and other members of the Vikings organization to Ohio when cornerback Antoine Winfield's brother was killed in September.

They did the same for defensive end Everson Griffen when his mother died at Griffen's home in October, making sure the distraught 25-year-old had every resource available to get through it.

``It showed me a lot,'' Griffen said. ``It showed me they really care about their players. It showed me that I had a home here and that really helped.''

Zygi Wilf also had several conversations with star running back Adrian Peterson over the summer when he was in the middle of his long and difficult rehabilitation from two torn ligaments in his left knee.

While many doubted if Peterson would be able to make it back, he said Wilf remained confident in his franchise player's recovery.

``I got to know him a lot better this past offseason,'' Peterson said. ``We built a bigger bond. We had a couple of really good conversations while I was going through it. I trust him.''

On the football side, the Wilfs approved spending for a set of officials to be at every practice after the Vikings struggled the previous season with penalties.

They also heeded calls from veterans and Frazier to install new turf in the practice facility, a surprise that was waiting for the team when it returned from the bye week in November.

They also provided a bigger, more comfortable private plane for the team's longer road trips to Seattle and Houston this season in addition to sparing no expense when Spielman set his sights on an important free agent or re-signing a core player.

``It's just so unique to have ownership that are in the background but are a lot more heavily involved than it's known in the public,'' Spielman said. ``They also let people do their jobs.''

The season appeared to be taking an ominous turn with a demoralizing loss at Green Bay that dropped them to 6-6.

A promising start seemed to be slipping away, so Wilf addressed the team on the Friday before a home game against the Chicago Bears to try to relieve some of the tension.

``He's passionate and genuine,'' Peterson said. ``It don't get no better than that. He said, `I got your back.'''

The Vikings haven't lost since.

``They treat our players more than just players. They're people they care about,'' Frazier said. ``Our players sense that. That's why when Zygi came in and talked about the passion he has for this team and this organization, that resonated with them. They've seen tangible evidence in the way he treats our players.

``When some owners talk about it being a family atmosphere, you take it with a grain of salt. Our players know it for a fact. When they deal with certain issues, Zygi, Mark and the Wilf family really care about what's going on in their lives.''

---

Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter: http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Aldon SmithApr 17 09:32p

The San Francisco 49ers do not plan on releasing LB Aldon Smith this offseason. Smith is expected to be suspended at the beginning of the season, but the length [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 17 08:52p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson (knee) said he expects to receive medical clearance to resume football activities in the near future. He underwent knee surgery in January but [ More ]

Sebastian VollmerApr 17 08:42p

New England Patriots OG Logan Mankins said OT Sebastian Vollmer (leg) has looked good this offseason while he recovers from the broken leg he suffered during the 2013 season.

Chris SneeApr 17 07:32p

New York Giants OG Chris Snee (hip, elbow) is expected to participate when offseason workouts begin next week even though he is not 100 percent.

Rolando McClainApr 17 06:02p

The Baltimore Ravens reinstated LB Rolando McClain from the reserve/retired list Thursday, April 17.

Russell AllenApr 17 05:02p

The Jacksonville Jaguars released LB Russell Allen, WR Jabin Sambrano and DEs Will Pericak and D'Aundre Reed Thursday, April 17.

Chad JohnsonApr 17 02:22p

Free-agent WR Chad Johnson (Patriots) signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League Thursday, April 17.

Brian CushingApr 17 01:32p

Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (knee) was medically cleared Thursday, April 17.

LaMichael JamesApr 17 10:04a

According to a league source, the San Francisco 49ers have been shopping RB LaMichael James. He finds himself behind RBs Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on [ More ]

Mike BrownApr 16 11:33p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Mike Brown signed his exclusive-rights free agent deal Wednesday, April 16.

Eli ManningApr 16 11:33p

Former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said in a radio interview this week that it is 'ludicrous' to say QB Eli Manning is declining. 'There's been no [ More ]

Sidney RiceApr 16 08:03p

The Seattle Seahawks are re-signing WR Sidney Rice to an undisclosed one-year deal Wednesday, April 16, according to sources.

Dwayne BoweApr 16 07:03p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe pleaded guilty Wednesday, April 16, after being arrested last November for marijuana possession. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges of littering and defective [ More ]

Arian FosterApr 16 04:53p

The Houston Texans may consider selecting a running back during the middle rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft that could become RB Arian Foster's backup in the future.

Chris JohnsonApr 16 04:43p

The New York Jets signed RB Chris Johnson to a two-year deal worth $8 million, with another $1 million in incentives available.

Terrelle PryorApr 16 04:33p

The Oakland Raiders hope to trade QB Terrelle Pryor before the start of the offseason program Monday, April 21.

Clay MatthewsApr 16 04:13p

Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews (thumb) said he likely will be limited during offseason workouts because of his surgically repaired thumb.

Chris JohnsonApr 16 03:53p

The New York Jets will use RBs Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory as a tandem this upcoming season and have them split carries. RB Bilal Powell will be the team's No. 3 running back.

Dan SkutaApr 16 03:33p

San Francisco 49ers LB Dan Skuta (foot) is not expected to need surgery on the foot injury that bothered him during the 2013 season. Skuta met with a foot [ More ]

Gus BradleyApr 16 02:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley watched Georgia QB Aaron Murray participate in his pro day Wednesday, April 16.

Reggie BushApr 16 02:13p

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said RBs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell likely will receive similar workloads this upcoming season than they did during the 2013 season. Bush [ More ]

Cheta OzougwuApr 16 01:53p

The Chicago Bears have waived DE Cheta Ozougwu.

Mike JamesApr 16 12:53p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Mike James (ankle) said he is happy with the progress he has made in his recovery from an ankle injury and that he has been [ More ]

Carson PalmerApr 16 12:43p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer said he would understand if the team selects a quarterback during the 2014 NFL Draft, because he knows the team has to think about [ More ]

Josh FreemanApr 16 12:23p

The New York Giants have agreed to terms with free-agent QB Josh Freeman (Vikings). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:13p

Updating previous reports, retired LB Rolando McClain failed his conditioning tests during his workout with the Baltimore Ravens. The test consisted of six timed 150-yard runs.

Golden TateApr 16 10:53a

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate said he thinks he can be a 'more explosive Lance Moore,' referring to the former New Orleans Saints receiver. Moore caught 65 passes for [ More ]

Matt FlynnApr 16 10:01a

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Flynn is expected to compete with QB Scott Tolzien for the backup quarterback job, but head coach Mike McCarthy anticipates keeping three QBs on [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:03a

Retired LB Rolando McClain (Ravens) worked out for the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday, April 15, as he attempts a comeback. The workout wasn't a smooth one in terms of conditioning, [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 16 12:03a

The New York Jets are sticking to their budget/value system. While they want free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Titans), they will not 'overpay' for him. The depressed running back market [ More ]

Aldon SmithApr 16 12:03a

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith hasn't only lost the benefit of the doubt with the team, but he probably won't play with the team in 2014, according to [ More ]

Malcom FloydApr 15 11:53p

San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd (neck) continues his rehab from a neck injury, but his status is still uncertain. When the team begins voluntary workouts April 22, Floyd [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group