The Vikings' search for a new chief marketing officer led them back to one of their former players.

The team hired Martin Nance, who spent the first two of his four NFL seasons as a receiver with the Vikings in 2006 and '07 before earning his MBA from Michigan and a certificate in executive education from Harvard. Nance worked in the NFL office in 2011 before spending nearly a decade with PepsiCo/Gatorade, where he most recently served as the company's senior director of marketing and sports intelligence.

He played at Miami (Ohio), earning his undergraduate degree in accounting before spending four seasons in the NFL. He caught his only four NFL passes with the Vikings in 2006, and earned a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers in 2009.

"It is truly an honor to rejoin the Minnesota Vikings in this capacity, and I am privileged to have this opportunity," Nance said in a statement. "I look forward to working alongside a great team as we strive to engage our passionate fans throughout the year with unique content and best-in-class fan experiences."

Nance succeeds longtime chief marketing officer Steve LaCroix, who was let go by the team as part of restructuring last fall, and becomes the highest-ranking Black person in the organization, after former chief operating officer Kevin Warren left to become Big Ten commissioner in 2019.

"Martin has a proven track record not only as a talented marketer but also as an authentic leader," Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf said. "His values, work ethic and expertise will be a great fit within the Vikings culture, and he will be an excellent addition to our leadership team."

Nance joins the team at an inflection point, after the Vikings played the entire 2020 season without fans at training camp or U.S. Bank Stadium as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Vikings COO Andrew Miller talked late last year about the shift in pro sports from a focus on events to an emphasis on content. Nance's early work in Minnesota figures to focus on re-engaging fans who haven't been able to see the team in person for more than a year.

"We are thrilled to have Martin join the Vikings organization," Miller said in a statement. "Martin is a transformative leader whose significant marketing experience, strong character and leadership skills will enable him to successfully drive our efforts to provide Vikings fans with a world-class fan experience."