[size=13pt]Front office: Four on the floor[/size]
Last update: September 07, 2006 Ã¯Â¿Â½ 6:32 PM
Quick test: Name the person who makes the Vikings' football decisions.
No, it's not Brad Spielzinski. It's not Rob Chilman, either -- but you get a "B" for creativity.
Much like their utilitarian roster, the Vikings' front office operates with no stars. Decisions require consent from multiple sources, and because coach Brad Childress and all vice presidents report directly to owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, individuals are blocked from assuming too much authority.
Once dubbed the "Triangle of Authority," the Vikings' football brain trust now includes at least four people -- Childress, Rob Brzezinski, Rick Spielman and Scott Studwell. Brzezinski handles contract negotiations and salary cap management, Spielman supervises the personnel department and Studwell will have significant -- if not final -- authority in determining draft strategy.
Childress is the only member of the group authorized to speak with newspaper reporters, but his public presence apparently should not be interpreted as a measure of authority. At least three of the four men contribute opinions to most decisions.
"One thing the Wilfs have done within the front office is assemble a group of team players," said Lester Bagley, vice president of public affairs and stadium development. "We've got no glory hounds. No one has personal agendas. It's all a team agenda."
Brzezinski ran the personnel department as recently as last season, but Wilf transferred that authority first to Fran Foley and now to Spielman. Studwell's presence, however, has left the department's exact power structure somewhat unclear; Spielman said in his introductory news conference that Studwell would handle the college draft.
Spielman appears at nearly every Vikings practice and all games, taking copious notes. He participates in some coaching meetings, adding an extra voice to evaluations of players and positions. Former coach Mike Tice used Studwell and current pro scout Paul Wiggin as unofficial sounding boards on football issues, and Wilf created Spielman's position to formalize that role.
In a Q&A posted on the Vikings' website, Spielman was asked what he does each day. Spielman answered that "every day is different" but emphasized that he moves between the college and pro sides of the scouting department and that he personally evaluates nearly all of the players discussed in personnel meetings.
"I want to make sure I take a look at all these guys as well," he said. "During a normal season, [the job] will be doing administrative things as far as making sure the roster is set at the beginning of the week, handling injuries and replacement players and anything else that needs to be done from a roster standpoint."