The Vikings woke up Wednesday to find themselves in the middle of the story about the New Orleans Saints' pursuit of Bill Parcells.
It wasn't a particularly comfortable spot for new general manager Rick Spielman, head coach Leslie Frazier, owner Zygi Wilf or the rest of the team.
The New York Post, citing an unnamed source, reported early that day that Wilf is pursuing Parcells, the Hall of Fame finalist and former Giants, Jets and Patriots coach, to come to Minnesota to "run the show."
According to the Post, Parcells was at a dinner with Saints coach Sean Payton and other friends in Florida when he revealed that Wilf offered Parcells to "name his price" to oversee the Vikings' football operations and coach the team. Parcells is Payton's pick to serve as interim coach while Payton serves his one-year suspension for his role in the team's bounty scandal.
Parcells, of course, has a history of leaks like this springing as he's talking to teams about working for them. In December of 2007, news linking Parcells to the Atlanta Falcons' top job was leaked to the media while Parcells was talking to the Miami Dolphins about the same job with them. A day later, Parcells signed with the Dolphins.
|New England Patriots Bill Parcells + Drew Bledsoe (Doug Pensinger/Getty)|
However, once Wilf promoted Spielman to general manager in January, any pursuit of Parcells ended.
"There is no truth to the media reports," Bob Hagan, Vikings public relations director, said about two hours after the story started to blaze among Vikings fans and reporters that cover the team.
Not long after that, NFL.com, citing a source close to Parcells, also said there was no truth to the story.
The Vikings were able to put the rumor behind them quickly because it made no sense. The team is looking to establish a system that's stable enough to sustain success over the long haul. Spielman is 49, works basically non-stop and is heading into his sixth season with the team. Parcells turns 71 in August and is well beyond the days of wanting to be a franchise builder and hasn't stayed with one team for longer than four years since leaving the Giants in 1990.
A day before the Post story appeared, Vikings president and co-owner Mark Wilf talked about Spielman and the system that's being put in place.
"We're involved and very immersed in the fact that we want to get our team back to the top of the NFC North and be competing for championships," he said. "And to an extent, our new structure with our general manager Rick Spielman and our coach Leslie Frazier, we're encouraged that we're going to be making some very good steps ahead here, particularly in the draft. We have 10 picks and a positive position which we haven't been in for several years. So we're excited with a deep draft ahead of us."
As far as whether he's noticed a difference yet with Spielman atop the organization chart, Wilf said, "The ultimate benefits are seen on the field in wins and losses. But I can tell you we're excited about the small steps we've been starting to make in free agency and as we continue to go into the draft and the offseason."