NEW ORLEANS -- Vikings owner Zygi Wilf had declined to comment publicly about the NFL's labor situation in recent weeks and hadn't talked to the media since he named Leslie Frazier as head coach a day after the season ended.
But Wilf broke his silence today after getting out of meetings at the Roosevelt Hotel. Topics included the lockout and the team's stadium situation.
Q. How different have these meetings been with the ongoing lockout?
A. “We’re all focused on moving the season along and working on rules changes. [So] it’s not much different.”
Q. Talk about your decision not to have any staff layoffs or pay cuts, at least at the beginning of the lockout.
A. “Well, it’s very important to let everyone know that we felt the hard work that they’ve been putting in, and continue to put in, was very important to our organization and that as an organization[al] policy we wanted to be consistent and thinking of everyone. We felt that that was the right approach.”
Q. Have you thought about how long it’s possible to continue that policy if this lockout goes on for an extended period?
A. “I really haven’t given any thought about that.”
Q. What’s your level of confidence that you will have a full season and this lockout won’t carry over into September?
A. “I think through everyone’s hard work I’m very optimistic that things will get resolved.”
Q. Is this tough at all for you as a fan of the game to see this rift between the players and the owners?
A. “I can only say that the most important thing is making sure that we work hard to get things done. That’s the most important thing that fans are looking for, to have a season and we’re working very hard to get that done.”
Q. Could the timing impact the drive to get a new stadium and getting NFL money or however that would work?
A. “I don’t feel so. We’re working very hard with everybody in Minnesota on the hill to get the stadium thing worked through. We realize that it’s an important asset to the community and that it’s to everyone’s interest to making sure that we get a stadium that would serve just not football but for all the other events that Metrodome served proudly for the last 30 years. We’re working hard to get that done and I’m optimistic that it will get done.”
Q. Do the legislators recognize this is a temporary situation?
A. “They recognize it’s part of what’s happening today. What’s most important right now is we don’t want it to detract us from getting our [new] home.”
Q. With your lease at the Metrodome up after 2011, what’s your level of concern that a stadium might not get approved?
A. “I’m not thinking about that. I know that everyone is working hard to getting a stadium deal done now. The timing is right. I think the community knows our intentions have been … for many years to get the best ballclub on the field and to bring a championship to Minnesota. An important part of that is making sure that we all can work together. Together, you have a new stadium done and we all realize how important it is for the franchise."
Q. Do you have a preference on the site of the potential stadium?
A. “No, we’ve identified different sites, and we’re working hard on each one of them to see which one would be best-served both from a location standpoint, site location and from our perspective seeing which partner would be the best for the completion of the stadium.”
Q. Do you need a site before a bill is introduced?
A. “I think they can work concurrently. I think that we all know what has to get done for a stadium to get done. [We] would have to work together with a site, and we want to make sure that both the site and the commitment from a partner, whoever that might be, works together so that we can accomplish this goal.”
Q. You can’t negotiate with players during the lockout, but how important will it be to get a contract extension for running back Adrian Peterson once this work stoppage is over? (His deal will void after the 2011 season)
A. “I’m not going to comment on any contract negotiations, but needless to say, as everyone knows, Adrian Peterson is a very important player on our ballclub. But when it comes to contracts, we’ll wait and see.”
Vikings make hire: The Vikings have hired former Citadel assistant coach Cameron Turner as their assistant to the head coach. Dennis Polian, who had held that job, has decided to pursue other options.
Harvin to see less time on kickoffs? We'll expand on this later, but Vikings coach Leslie Frazier acknowledged Monday that there is a chance Percy Harvin could see less time on kickoff returns in 2011. The reason is twofold. First, Harvin's issues with migraine headaches makes the high impact of kickoff returns not exactly the best thing for him. Second, veteran Lorenzo Booker averaged 23.8 yards on 18 kickoff returns last season after being signed.
"You take a look at what we did at the end of the year with Booker returning, even though Percy was ready to go -- you have to consider the things you just mentioned [about keeping Harvin healthy]," Frazier said. "Booker did a great job for us. He had a couple nice returns for us. That was one of the reasons [before one late game] I told him, ‘Hey, you know what? Don’t worry about kickoffs, kickoff returns this game. We’re going to let Lorenzo handle it and you’re going to make big plays for us as a wide receiver.’
"I think the Philly game and even our last game, we went that direction. That’s not to say it’ll always be that case. But if you have a guy like a Lorenzo who gives you something, you don’t always have to put Percy back there."
Harvin averaged 23.3 yards with a touchdown on 40 kickoff returns last season.