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Continued: Hartman: Wilfs encouraged for team, stadium

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 6, 2012 - 6:42 AM

The Vikings are $15 million below the NFL salary cap, and the Wilf family, the owners of the team, never have turned down a request from a general manager or a coach to spend the money necessary to land a free agent who could help the team.

And if a needed player became available at any time before the season, owner/president Mark Wilf said they would write the check if General Manager Rick Spielman wanted the deal.

However, when the Wilfs appointed Spielman as general manager in January, they agreed to do it his way. Spielman believes he can win in the short term but also "build a long-term successful program in a measured way," as Mark Wilf put it.

So far under Spielman, the only high-priced free agent signed in the offseason has been tight end John Carlson, who played for Seattle last year.

"We're building through the draft and building in free agency in spots where it's needed," Wilf said. "But we want to do it the right way, and I think we're on that process. We're going to get 10 draft picks coming up in a few weeks, and we're going to get a lot better through that.

"We're looking every day to get better, whatever opportunity will present itself. We're not going to rule out anything, but we've got a process we're going through and we're going to do things in a way that's thought out with a plan, strategically, so we can be successful in the long term.

"If our general manager and our coach feel that a player is going to help us win, we will provide the resources to help us win, but we're going to do it the right way."

Wilf sang the praises of vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski, who manages the salary cap for the Vikings, and said that because of his efforts, the club will be ready to add players when needed.

Wilf said he has complete faith in Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier.

"In this league, every game is close," Wilf said. "It can turn very quickly. We feel with the coaching and the scouting and the players we have -- a young nucleus coming up -- we're going to get better and hopefully in a hurry."

Stadium progress

Wilf said he was encouraged by recent moves in the Legislature and the Minneapolis City Council to get a bill passed for a new Vikings stadium.

He hopes the people in position to vote on the stadium realize how much additional money it could cost to build the stadium, even a year from now, if there are delays.

"There's construction risk, interest rate risk and market risk," Wilf said. "Now is the time to get it done. Economic growth and jobs will be created out of this project, which are very important in this economy at this time."

Mauer on Forbes list

Forbes magazine recently listed the highest-paid players in Major League Baseball, which included a combination of yearly salary and endorsements, and Twins catcher Joe Mauer ranked second in the majors, being expected to earn $27 million in 2012. That figure included an estimated $4 million in endorsements from Nike, Gatorade, Head & Shoulders and Rawlings. Mauer trailed only Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is expected to earn $32 million.

Mauer is ranked 12th on the list of top-selling jerseys in MLB. Derek Jeter of the Yankees is first.

Big gift by Peterson

Oklahoma University announced Thursday that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson donated $1 million to the school, the largest donation ever by a former Sooners football player. Peterson's gift will go toward the building of Headington Hall, a new student housing facility on campus, and it will create the Adrian Peterson Football Scholarship Endowment.

In a news release Peterson said: "This was something that I had been thinking about doing for a long time. I always hoped to be in a position to be able to donate back to the University of Oklahoma and make it an even better place; do whatever I could to help the university that did so much for me."

Mbakwe's options

Look for Trevor Mbakwe to apply before Tuesday to be eligible for the 2012 NBA draft. However, the Gophers forward -- who missed most of the season after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee in the team's seventh game -- will not hire an agent, so he can withdraw if he wants and play for Minnesota next year.

In March, the NCAA granted Mbakwe a sixth year of eligibility if he chooses to use it.

Meanwhile, Mbakwe continues to be a member of the Gophers in everything they do, such as joining in a squad meeting coach Tubby Smith conducted Wednesday and working with weight coach Kevin Kocos. Mbakwe said Wednesday that his knee is getting better every day, but it will be some time before he can run.

Jottings

• Gophers director of basketball operations Joe Esposito is a candidate for the Minnesota Duluth's basketball coaching vacancy, and he would be a good one. Esposito was head coach at Angelo State for eight years (1998-2006) and recorded 118 victories, leaving the school with the highest winning percentage of any coach in the program's history. ... Meanwhile Gophers assistant basketball coach Vince Taylor was a finalist for the Central Michigan job that went to Keno Davis, the son of veteran coach Tom Davis, who coached at Iowa and Drake.

• Tom Parish, the highly recruited quarterback from Hartland (Wis.) Arrowhead, has given up football at Minnesota but remains a student.

• Former Cretin-Derham Hall offensive lineman Sean-trel Henderson had a rough winter and spring with some discussion that he might be released from the University of Miami (Fla.) football team. Instead he was suspended for the first two spring practices for violating team policy and is back with the squad now. "I was angry about [being suspended]," Henderson told CBS Sports. "It was my mistake. I was just really eager to get back and bounce back from missing those two practices that I wasn't supposed to miss."

• Mikael Granlund, the Wild's first-round draft pick in 2010, is playing his third season with HIFK Helsinki and has a team-leading 51 points on 20 goals and 31 assists in 45 games.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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