Vikings owner Zygi Wilf walked into Brad Childress' day-after-game press conference still donning a gray NFC North division champion hat.
Wilf had changed out his grey suit from the night before, when the Vikings won the division, but he was still wearing a smile while talking about his first division championship as an owner and throwing his support behind head coach Brad Childress.
"The job of a head coach is real tough, as you can see throughout the league," Wilf said. "For him to be able to work together with the coaching staff and with the players and to get everybody on the (same) page over all these years is a patient work and needs everyone to buy into the program. It's up and down, but certainly reaching our goal of winning the division was a milestone that we set for ourselves."
Childress was asked minutes before Wilf talked about winning the division in his third season as head coach of the Vikings. He looked toward Wilf and joked, "I think I told the Wilfs that we were going to win the division title the first year. Well, maybe not. You have that vision and you want to build it the right way. Obviously you want to win sooner rather than later. I think we have a good foundation in place."
Childress did say when he was hired early in 2006 that he viewed Minnesota as the "plum" job among the openings for head coach that year.
"I'm not into timeframes because we're here right now. But it's a step towards our ultimate goal to being a long-term competitive, class franchise," Wilf said, acknowledging that Sunday's win over the Giants was a big victory.
"We were knocking on the door last year when we had a chance to get into the playoffs. Again, we had a chance earlier on this year against Atlanta. But to do it the way we did and get momentum going into the playoffs is another stepping stone toward the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl. We're just looking forward to being in the playoffs and playing Philadelphia and getting the fans out there to support us as they always have in the past."
Childress took over a team that finished 9-7 in 2005 under Mike Tice. In his first year as head coach, Childress' team was 6-10. He went 8-8 last year before getting his first division title and playoff berth this year.
Wilf didn't directly answer questions about Childress' long-term future, but he repeated his mantra about building a franchise to be a long-term winner.
"This is a work in progress. Everybody has to improve. Players, organization staff, coaches, owners," Wilf said. "Like I said before, our goal is to be a long-term competitive organization that everybody knows when we're out there that they're going to have a fight on their hands. I give a lot of credit to the players and everyone involved to really be there competitively and fight to the finish. That's the team you're going to get every time we come out there. You can see this year, every single game, win or lose, we're always there fighting to the end. (Sunday) night was a culmination of a great effort by our team."
With a 50-yard field goal with no time remaining, the Vikings got a one-point (20-19) win over the New York Giants, a team that Wilf grew up cheering for. Now the Vikings are preparing to play a Philadelphia Eagles team that Brad Childress used to work for as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
The Vikings at least have the advantage of playing at home. Players, coaches, front-office staff and Wilf all made pleas for the fans to make an impact with their voices Sunday at the Metrodome.
"We really ask the fans to come out. I know this is the first home playoff game we've had in some time and it came quite suddenly," Wilf said. "We're asking the fans to really come out and support us. They're as important as anyone, especially in the Metrodome. We need their help. I think we'll be able to do it again. We ask everyone to come out and enjoy this because it's tough to get to where we're at. We're very happy for the fans to have the opportunity to come to the Metrodome and support our team in the playoffs."
Of course, it was some of those same Vikings fans that were chanting "Fire Childress" earlier this year when the team was struggling with a 1-3 start.
"We've always had the goal to be a long-term competitive, class organization. It doesn't happen overnight. We need everybody to buy into it," Wilf said when asked about those early-season chants. "We're on the right direction. We've very happy to be here, be in the playoffs, win our division and have a home-field game, which we haven't had here for a while. I'm just very happy for the fans and for everybody involved with the organization. This is a very important milestone."
Wilf supports the team's direction
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