Red Rides Off

In a short period of ownership that saw the Vikings transform from an also-ran to a two-time NFC Championship Game competitor, Red McCombs' exit from Minnesota was marked with mixed emotions.

The Vikings of 2005 are already being picked by many NFL experts as the heir to the four-year reign of the Eagles atop the NFC. If they do reach their destination, however, it won't be with Red McCombs as the owner.

But as a politician would ask constituents -- "Are you better off now than you were eight years ago?" -- McCombs could ask the same question.

When he took over the Vikings, the team was in disarray. The team had 10 owners -- none of whom seemed to be able to agree on anything. When he bought the team, panic set in among fans that he was buying the team simply to relocate.

Seven years later, the Vikings are still in Minnesota and McCombs kept his word. He sent a letter to Vikings employees Thursday saying that, despite no longer owning the team, he will always feel that the Vikings are his team.

Whether Zygi Wilf can get the stadium deal that eluded McCombs is yet to be seen, but, like him or not, McCombs was true to his word. He didn't move the Vikings and, at least on his watch, he kept them in Minnesota.

Some may argue McCombs could have spent more on the Vikings to get more talent on the field, but the McCombs era has to be viewed as a success. They didn't get to the Super Bowl, but they left fans with a lot of memories and restored Purple Pride to the organization that had seemingly lost a lot of its pride in the 1990s.

Wilf has his own vision of where the Vikings are heading, but the McCombs era will be one that, in hindsight, will be remembered more for the successes than the failures and Purple Pride will remain a mantra of fans of the Vikings -- thanks in large part to the ownership of McCombs.

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