Wilf, players exude optimism for Vikings

The Vikings are confident in their coaches and personnel, but they are wise enough not to fall for leading questions.

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. – Zygi Wilf says he learned from early optimism as the Minnesota Vikings owner. He isn’t predicting a Super Bowl this season, no matter how leading a question he gets, but he believes it’s possible.

Why wouldn’t he? And how else would he answer a question like that? Is he going to say he doesn’t think it’s possible and squash his team’s hopes?

Still, predictions make headlines for some. The more sensible approach is the one Wilf is taking now.

“I’ve never been more optimistic since we’ve owned the team about our players, our coach, our organization and the direction we’re headed,” Wilf said Wednesday while relaxing at Rush Creek Golf Club for the Vikings Children’s Fund annual fundraising golf tournament.

Asked if he was predicting a Super Bowl during an earlier radio interview, Wilf answered the only way he should.

“Absolutely. We could win the Super Bowl, but I stopped making my predictions I think in my third season when I predicted – and I was correct but no one believed me – but I’m not doing that anymore,” he said.

Actually, the Vikings haven’t made it to the Super Bowl during Wilf’s 10-year tenure as owner, but they were on the brink of that when they reached the 2009 NFC Championship Game and appeared to be a late, ill-time Brett Favre interception away from scoring the winning points in the waning minutes of what turned out to be an overtime loss.

Chad Greenway was part of that overtime loss and knows that words in June mean nothing. Actions during the season and (the Vikings hope) postseason mean everything.

“Nobody is anointed right now. The reality is you can be as good as you want to be on paper and everybody can talk about how much talent you have on the roster and it’s B.S. You guys know that,” Greenway said Wednesday. “It’s a matter of getting into September and getting to Sundays and how you play on Sundays. You can have as good a roster as you want, but if you’re not performing on Sundays it doesn’t matter. Yeah, it looks good, sounds good, feels good, but we’ll see how it goes come September.”

Wilf said he had two goals when his family bought the Vikings in 2005: Build a new stadium to modern-day standards and win the Super Bowl.

“We’re in the midst of doing both,” he said.

He has reason for optimism. His star running back, Adrian Peterson, is back with the team after missing all but the opening game of 2014. He has a respected coach in Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator in Norv Turner. And he finally has a long-term quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, that appears poised enough to pull it off at some time in the future.

“Teddy has been great, surpassed everything I expected, we expected – well, maybe I expected. Maybe the coaches expected it,” Wilf said. “Just the way he carries on himself, the confidence, the leadership that he’s showing, the pride in his leadership, his ability on the field, his presence on the field – a lot for our fans to be excited about. That, with the coach and with all the players, it’s going to make a great season, many seasons ahead of great football by the Minnesota Vikings. I think we’re going to show it year after year.”

Optimism with an overriding sense of self-awareness of having to prove it seems to be the mantra these days.

“I think everyone is pretty optimistic with this season and with this team. I think we’ve got a lot of great players,” linebacker Audio Cole said. “I think it’s up to us – obviously it is up to us on how well we do this year – and I think we’ve got the right guys to do it and have a decent year.”

Can the Vikings win the Super Bowl? “Absolutely.”

Will they? Wilf is now wise enough not to swallow that artificial lure.

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