When the sale of the Vikings became official June 14 of last year, there was concern that the team wasn't in any better shape with the Wilf family than it was under the ownership of Red McCombs. But a year later, the outlook seems as different as night and day.
In the year since buying the team, the Wilfs have fired the entire coaching staff and radically changed the personnel on the team -- from franchise QB Daunte Culpepper on down.
The Wilfs have drawn criticism for the trading of Culpepper, the handling of the Mike Tice firing and the Fran Foley debacle, but perhaps the most telling difference between the Wilfs and McCombs has been their willingness to spend the money needed to succeed.
In the past year, chairman Zygi Wilf has approved money to sign free agents, including the largest contract ever given to a guard when the team signed Pro Bowler Steve Hutchinson to a seven-year, $49 million contract. In addition, the team has added several members to its coaching staff that didn't exist under McCombs and approved spending money to improve the team's practice facility.
But perhaps the biggest change one year into the ownership tenure is the progress that has been made on getting the Vikings a new stadium. While there is likely still a long and tough fight ahead of them, under McCombs the chances of getting a new stadium deal were all but dead. He had tried to lobby the Legislature with no luck. With the Wilfs promising $1 billion in private investment for an Anoka County stadium and the recent passage of Twins and Gophers stadium deals, it looks as if the next legislative session could be the one that finally gets a deal done.
The Wilfs have made a lot of changes in one year, as they craft the Vikings franchise in their own image. But the casual fan has to admit that the chances of the Vikings staying in Minnesota look considerably better than they did a year ago at this time.
* Brad Childress said he doesn't intend to impose a ban on players riding motorcycles in light of the recent near-tragic accident with Ben Roethlisberger. Childress said the staff will encourage those players who ride bikes to wear helmets, but doesn't expect a full ban to be part of that discussion.
* Chris Kluwe still isn't healed enough to punt the ball in practice, but Childress said his rehab is on track.
* Rookies will arrive at training camp July 27 with veterans required to be in Mankato by July 30.
* The Vikings will have some combined training camp workouts with the Chiefs, where new coach Herman Edwards will scrimmage and do shared drills with the Vikings. The scrimmage is expected to be the evening of Aug. 4.
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