Vikes use rare 12th-man plan: Wilf deployed on the sidelines

  • Article by: KEVIN SEIFERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 25, 2007 - 8:28 PM

The New Jersey-based Vikings owner has a soft spot for the Giants - until Minnesota comes to town.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Zygi Wilf was one of the boys again Sunday, rooting on his team from the sidelines and -- every now and then -- dashing onto the field to take part in the celebration of the Vikings' 41-17 victory over the New York Giants.

A New Jersey native, the Vikings owner takes to the sidelines when they play the team he once rooted for -- politely avoiding his friends who remain Giants fans. He was no mild-mannered owner Sunday, however, as he checked first-down measurements at one point and joined a mob scene around safety Dwight Smith at another.

"This felt so good," Wilf said as he left the field. "I knew coming in that we were a better team than we had shown. I'm really proud of the way we played."

Wilf has never hid his identity as an ex-Giants fan, but he still took special measures last week to make sure the Vikings knew how much he wanted to win Sunday. Friday, in fact, Wilf -- who still lives in New Jersey -- took a spontaneous day trip to the Twin Cities to visit with players.

"I wanted to be with the team," Wilf said. "I just felt that I wanted them to know that I'm always thinking of them. I wanted to really be with them on Thanksgiving weekend and wish them all a happy Thanksgiving, and make them feel that they're coming here to New York but that they're coming to my home."

Wilf's anticipation grew as he spent the early part of the week listening to Giants fans dismiss the Vikings' chances.

"Certainly this was great," Wilf said, "[after] hearing on the radio how we're not even considered in the same caliber of the Giants, and how the Giants are a very much-improved team.... [The victory] was something I was very happy to experience. It's a great confidence-builder. It's something we can carry on for many games."

Wilf last stalked the sidelines when the Vikings visited Giants Stadium on Nov. 13, 2005. In that game, the Vikings scored touchdowns on a punt return, a kickoff return and an interception return to defeat the Giants 24-21.

The Vikings are now 2-0 WZOTS (With Zygi On The Sidelines), but next week he plans to return to the more traditional owner's suite.

"My days on the sidelines will be reserved for when I come to Giants Stadium for Giants games," Wilf said, laughing. "I'll be back and running around in the booth when I get back to Minnesota."

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