The Wilfs officially became owners of the Vikings in May 2005. Zygi was 55 and front-and-center as the owner, with brother Mark, 12 years younger, in the background.
They didn't wait long to undertake an overhaul of the football operation. Coach Mike Tice was fired within a half-hour of finishing a 9-7 season on Jan. 1, 2006, a Sunday, and by Friday, Brad Childress had been hired as his replacement.
Coach Dennis Green had been given full authority over the football operation before the draft in 1999. When he was replaced by Tice with one game left in the 2001 season, the Vikings went back to having several tentacles involved in football decisions.
The Wilfs wanted a clear-cut leader in the front office and hired Fran Foley as vice president for player personnel on Jan. 26, 2006.
Foley was coming into a situation where Childress' contract gave him control over the 53-player roster, thus making Fran less than all-powerful.
By all accounts, that's what Foley wanted to be. He became known for threats of firings, and the firing turned out to be his — on May 3, right after the draft.
That was a big woof for the Wilfs.
They filled that position on May 30 with Rick Spielman, fired as the general manager in Miami in 2004.
Spielman became the de facto general manager after Childress was fired with six games left in the 2010 season, and officially was given that title in 2012.
Looking back, everything that happened with the draft since 2011 — that's on Spielman, including reaching up to 12th overall to take Christian Ponder as the quarterback of the future with his first selection.
Reports have it Spielman expected to survive in some capacity as coach Mike Zimmer was fired on Jan. 10. One of the Wilfs — I'm guessing Mark — was smart enough to realize the reaction for a disillusioned fan base to that would be:
"They fired Zimmer … so what? They still have Spielman."
The GM got off easy in the postmortems, as most of the shots were taken at Zimmer for his lack of proper 2020s-style communication skills.
What we were promised by Mark Wilf in presenting the owners' view was a Vikings future filled with full collaboration with the organization — owners, GM, coach, all the minions.
Give me a C, an O, a couple of LLs, etc. … rah, rah, COLLABORATION!
Derek Falvey took over publicly as chief baseball executive of the Twins in November 2016. He used "collaboration" and its various forms so often that we used to count them in his answers.
Falvey's an affable chap and has admitted to now trying to avoid the word.
The next zealous guarantee of a collaborative future in local pro sports came from Gersson Rosas on May 1, 2019, when being announced as the Timberwolves president for basketball operations.
The grumpy old bachelor, Tom Thibodeau, was long gone and the Wolves would now be a "family" filled with collaboration.
I'm going to avoid the one-liner here and just say that didn't work out so well. Rosas was fired on Sept. 22, 2021.
And what the hey? Gersson made some good personnel moves and his tenure was a year longer than Fran Foley's.
You know the boss of a big four pro franchise in the Twin Cities who has never uttered the word "collaboration" in public?
Bill Guerin, the general manager of the Wild, and the only winner among those teams in Minnesota at the moment.
When it came time to decide whether to unload Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, Guerin pronounced: "We're going to get rid of them both."
Coach Dean Evason offered a "hallelujah" and owner Craig Leipold a "gulp," and that was it — collaboration, Guerin-style.
And a similar approach is what I would endorse fully in the new Vikings general manager:
A throwback to Ron Wolf when he took over as GM of the Packers in 1991 with "complete power on football decision-making."
What do you think Wolf would've said if his coach came in demanding a rookie fifth-rounder get dumped as the kicker because he missed some important ones in his second-ever game?
"OK, Zim," said Spielman.
"No. Anything else on your mind?" Ron Wolf would've said.
Wolf's son, Eli, was interviewed for the Vikings GM opening, but didn't make the cut. That's good, since this Wolf is said to be a quiet type. The team doesn't need that and the public doesn't, not after 11 years of Spielman popping out of the shadows three, four times a year to say nothing.
I want a forceful football boss who makes it clear he's in charge. Psah to collaboration. I want to hear about a sign on the GM's office wall that reads, "I'll get them, you coach them."