GM Rick Spielman celebrated his 10th anniversary with Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has spent 10 years with the organization and, while his hiring was under inauspicious circumstances, it has been a decade of building toward success.

Tuesday morning, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman starts the second decade of his tenure as the organization’s top personnel man – we didn’t always call him the G.M.

Spielman came to Minnesota under less-than-desirable circumstances and, 10 years later, has the Vikings on the cusp of being a legitimate Super Bowl contestant.

For those who forget 2006, Winter Park was in disarray. Still stinging from the mere mention of the infamous couple who had nothing to do with their notoriety – Al & Alma – the boat-chartering company was getting tourist traffic for all the wrong reasons. Al & Alma were in the news because of a Vikings party on their boats that brought a black mark on the franchise.

Brad Childress had been brought in as the head coach of a franchise that, in the current climate – was being referred to as somewhere in between Delta House and Baylor. NFL history has taught us that organizational implosions typically result in a general manager being hired first and then having a say in hiring the coach.

Spielman didn’t have that luxury. In fact, his 10th anniversary celebration is the direct result of one the rarely used NFL Lemon Laws on the books.  History and fan engagement can debate the merits of the Childress Administration. The Pittsburgh Steelers are no stranger to the benefit of the Childress coaching tree. It’s a big branch. He was given marginal autonomy when hired because the Vikings were implementing a weekend training seminar hot take on authority delegation. From the think tank came the Triangle of Authority: The buck doesn’t stop here; it lands in the vicinity of here.

Two legs of the tripod were already in place. The first was Vikings capologist Rob Brzezinski. The guy who holds the cash has a hallowed place in the pantheon of the NFL. Always has. Always will. Chilly was the second line on the triangle. All they needed was a de facto general manager and all was good.

The powers that be made the call. That man was Fran Foley.

To say Foley rubbed people the wrong way would be polite. He offended some. He infuriated others.

Before Chilly had coached his first full-on practice, he was dealing with a second G.M. on his watch. That guy was Spielman.

When he came to Minnesota, he knew that, at the time anyway, his job was disposable. 

So what happened in the decade in between?

The New England reality check. Drafting A.P. Trading for Jared. Favre opens a Sconny wound. The roof, the roof, the roof ain’t entire. He never vouched for Donovan McNabb. The one good Ponder year. The cataclysmic Ponder year. The arrival of Mike Zimmer. The ray of hope.  

Each year in the 10 that Rick Spielman and Minnesota have been synonymous has been marked by its own distinctive storyline. Spielman has lived through them all – good and bad – and the impact they individually brought to his professional association with the Vikings have helped define his career to date.

You would think a traditional 10th anniversary gift in the NFL would be better than tin or aluminum, but no such luck for Spielman. It is what it is.

But considering that ivory and crystal are on the gift horizon, the second decade for Spielman may be looking more positive than the odds were he would make it 10 years when he was hired 10 years ago.

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