Vikings Name Rick Spielman General Manager

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — The leaders of the Minnesota Vikings looked around the league and decided the traditional front office has proven to work for many other teams.

The frustration and embarrassment of finishing 3-13 finally put that into focus.

The Vikings elevated Rick Spielman Tuesday to general manager, streamlining a nebulous power structure and making the first move toward reviving a team that matched the worst record in franchise history.

Spielman was promoted from his previous role as vice president of player personnel, which he held since his hire in May 2006. He will now have final authority over all roster-related decisions, in addition to his previous duties running the scouting departments and the draft, instead of the by-committee approach to player transactions with head coach Leslie Frazier.

“We thought long and hard through the season, and we feel this is the right way. Knowing Rick and his body of work, we’re confident he’s the man to do it,” team President Mark Wilf team.

The Vikings haven’t had a true general manager since Mike Lynn in the 1980s. They’ve won a lot of games since then and been in legitimate contention for several Super Bowls, but snags in the group-decision system were exposed when Frazier’s predecessor, Brad Childress, hastily cut malcontent wide receiver Randy Moss without consultation last November. Frazier also pushed last summer for the Vikings to acquire veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb to give rookie Christian Ponder more time to learn, but the offense was stagnant during six games under McNabb and Ponder took over in October.

The sharp decline from NFC runner-up two years ago to consecutive last-place finishes with a 9-23 combined record pushed this parting from the preferred collaborative management style the Wilfs have used. They acknowledged that back-to-back division titles in 2008 and 2009 clouded their judgment of the current structure.

“It’s a long-term solution for the franchise. We’ve been successful in the past, but we felt like for the long-term progress and success of the ballclub the model that exists pretty much throughout the league for those successful teams is a model we would follow,” team Chairman Zygi Wilf said. He added: “Speaking to other owners and learning from other teams and seeing how their systems have worked, we came to the conclusion that this is the way this has to work.”

The power to hire and fire head coaches will stay with the lead owners, the Wilf brothers. Mark Wilf said the organization has “full confidence” in Frazier, and all of the officials who spoke to the media Tuesday expressed confidence the Vikings can turn around quickly. They have the third pick in this year’s draft.

“Three and 13 is not acceptable for our fans of the Minnesota Vikings. It’s not acceptable for our ownership. It’s not acceptable for this organization. I’ll take my share of responsibility in that 3-13 record,” Spielman said, his voice cracking.

He was emotional earlier in the day, too, when he addressed the staff, and he appeared a bit nervous during his news conference, at one point accidentally referring to Frazier as “Leslie Football.” But he expressed plenty of confidence in his ability to help rebuild the Vikings.

“The coaches will still be heavily involved through all our personnel. But it’s my responsibility in the end to decide what’s best for this organization moving forward. I know I’ve had a great conversation with Leslie. I have no doubt moving forward that this is even going to grow stronger in our relationship to put a winner on the field,” Spielman said.

Frazier praised the move, too. He said it only “enhances” his role.

“The biggest thing is you just want to know what the lines of demarcation are. For me, I know exactly where I need to go when I have to talk about certain matters and get those things handled, and that’s good. It’s really good for me,” Frazier said.

Frazier will still have the final word on his coaching staff, with the defense under particular scrutiny. Frazier said he has no timetable for any changes, however, noting “ongoing discussions.” He left open the possibility of switching to a 3-4 scheme, but he reiterated his comfort with their current 4-3 system.

Spielman, the older brother of former NFL linebacker and current college TV analyst Chris Spielman, will start his 22nd season as an NFL executive. He was a scout for the Detroit Lions from 1990-96 and the director of pro personnel for the Chicago Bears from 1997-99 before heading to Miami with head coach Dave Wannstedt in 2000 to be the vice president of player personnel for the Dolphins.

Spielman served mostly as an adviser to Wannstedt on draft, trade and free agency decisions, but Wannstedt’s authority was reduced after the 2003 season and Spielman was promoted to general manager over six other candidates. Wannstedt resigned in the middle of a messy 2004 season, when Spielman’s moves drew plenty of criticism, including the trade of a second-round draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback A.J. Feeley, who never panned out. Nick Saban took over as Miami’s head coach in 2005, and Spielman was squeezed out.

Spielman spent one year as a television analyst for ESPN before coming to Minnesota to replace the fired Fran Foley. He was mostly behind the scenes, addressing the media only around draft time, but he said he’s “very excited” about the pressure that will come with the new title and increased responsibility.

“Identify where we can get better and come up with that plan of action on to how to get better. Not just say, ‘Yeah, we made a mistake here, what are you going to do?’ No, it’s going to be, ‘Yeah, we made a mistake. Now what are we going to do to make sure that doesn’t happen again?'” Spielman said.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • packer

    That won’t help. Get rid of the team. They suck.

  • packersstillsuck

    He’s worked with Detroit, Chicago and Miami? What have they got to show for this? 22 years, nothing to be really proud of in his resume and he gets the job? Must know somebody high up.

  • Former season ticket holder

    They must have been impressed by all his drafting success that has lead this team to have the players to go 6-10 and then 3-13! More losing seasons in store with Spielman in charge. Hopefully they will occur in LA.

  • zee the reporter

    This team needs a lot of changes it starts in the organistaion!

  • scott

    Getting a GM is the right move. This guy? Don’t think so.

  • Terrible move - so move (out of MN) now.

    Good grief. From the frying pan to the fire. Great move there Zygi.

    Now we have yet another reason NOT to build these losers a new stadium.

    Go away Vikings … far, far away.

  • Marcus

    I was hoping since Polian was available…

  • Fran

    As long as the owner of the team is willing to corrupt the political process and steal money from the taxpayers, the players will not perform at their peak.

    Come on, if you worked for that sleazeball Zygi, would you do your best?

  • The Angry Walrus

    Geez, you people. So, because we have had a couple of bad seasons, the team should move? I can bet that you either A.) just hate sports in general, and/or B) were not wanting them to move 2 years ago when we went to the NFC championship game.

    Get a grip folks, success is cyclical. there will be good seasons, and there will be bad(some, like this are worsee than bad) BUT if you are a real Minnesotan, and a real football fan, we shouldn’t let them leave. (let alone WANT them to leave.)

    • Zeeeeee

      Well said !!

    • Northern One

      A great comment finally.

  • bat stuff

    A “couple” of bad seasons? Where have you been for the past 51 years?

    Today’s Vikings aren’t the Vikings of the Bud Grant era – you know, the days when football players played football to win the game, when they were clean-cut athletes who your sons could look up to, admire, and want to emulate, and who, if they were in the news at all, were helping at a charity event, going to church, or otherwise contributing to society.

    No sir. Today’s Vikings have no pride, no professionalism, no pride, and often no morals. All that matters is the money. Many of them need hairnets, driving lessons, manners, chemical dependency counseling, and a swift kick in the backside.

    And if all that isn’t bad enough, the current owners are even worse than the players.

    May I also point out that Zygi doesn’t even sugar coat his reason for wanting a new stadium: it’s to increase his profits by at least $42 million! He makes no mention at all of improving the team (either on or off the field), cultivating public support or pride (other than providing more space for the purple face painters to drink their beer and get loud and obnoxious for the game), or supporting the community. All he wants is our money. Period. That’s it.

    No sir, Mr. Walrus, I don’t even want the team here anymore; there is no reason at all for me to feel any pride towards them being in Minnesota. And, above everything, I don’t want to see one single cent of public money (in any form, including increased gaming) used towards erecting a temple to the Wilf’s Vikings.

    • The Angry Walrus

      If you are looking for athletes to be role models, then your arguement could be made towards all pro sports.

      Wilf owns the team for one reason. To make money. This is a business, he is a business man. It is commonplace for pro sports teams to use public money to fund stadiums. (I think Zygi should foot more of the bill, too)

      Public funding is used for many things that I might not agree with, this will be one that you don’t agree with. There, now we are even. :)

      I agree that a lot of players these days don’t seem to care about much more than making money, and that is sad, but there are good guys out there that play and ARE good role models. Ponder, Kleinsasser, Jared Allen, etc.

      • bat stuff

        I can’t fault much of what you’ve said but I would like to emphasize one of your own points: yes, Wilf owns the team for one reason only – to make money.

        It may surprise you to know that I understand that perfectly. Where you and I part company is your blind acceptance that it’s a done deal for him to use public money to fund his temple. Remember what mom used to say? “If everyone else jumps off the bridge are you going to jump off it too?”

        Just because the public has paid before neither makes it right nor does it justify MN doing it again. And, note that there are some examples of recently built stadiums where the “public” portion was quite minimal.

        I have no problem letting Zygi make his fortune, I just don’t want to see the public contribute to it other than via buying his tickets or his merchandise.

        So, no, we’re not even yet. I’ll call us square when either the Vikings leave MN or Zygi arranges his own private financing. How’s that?

        • weswon

          I couldn’t agree with you more!! Well said. If this is such a good deal, Zygi and his wealthy partners should be more than able to obtain public financing. Oh! by the way angry walrus the Vikings have left us the fans disappointed for 51 years. NO SUPER BOWL victories.(period) The packers have won a few. They may even win two in a row. I will take my chances with the PACKERS. They at least win a few of the big games.

    • Walter

      42 million a year. 10 games per year would mean 4.2 million per game. 65000 fans, $65 bucks per fan on average.

  • FreeDubay

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. I’m sorry but I just can’t stop laughing. Personally I love this. Go Packers!

    • The Angry Walrus

      It would be good to be a packer fan these days. Enjoy it while it lasts!

  • Rubin

    The Vikings need to bring head coach Les Steckel back!

  • Webb!!!

    NOOOOOOO!!!! Spielman should’ve been fired and someone else should be the new GM. He’s been awful making player personnel decisions!!! I can’t stand it when bad behavior gets rewarded.

  • cmon vikes

    Lived in Florida during his time there and his moves did nothing but consign the Dolphins to mediocrity. Ask folks in MIA what they thought of him. It does not take much to sign up free agents as its all about money, but briniging in talent that is less well known takes skill and he aint got it. Look at the super sucessful teams — Patriots, Packers, Saints. They all have the skill to bring in players virtually unannounced who prove to be workd beaters! Vikes cant and for sure wont now do anything like this. So poor old Zig will be stuck with high price free agents and a woeful supporting cast like last year. Just a terrible move.

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