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  1. #1
    Articnv's Avatar
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    Why i liking Zigy

    igy article from sunday
    DeLand column: Zygi is doing all the right things

    This much can be said for Red McCombs: the man oozes personality, although that public persona could best be described as Foghorn Leghorn without the tailfeathers.
    But for all of his blather and bluster and Purple Pride prattle, McCombs never displayed so much as a whit of public relations savvy during his tenure as owner of the Minnesota Vikings. He always came across as a huckster, a snake oil salesman who cared about the fans only as long as they still had something in their wallet.

    Contrast all of that with Zygi Wilf, the Vikings' understated new owner. He wouldn't make much of a cartoon character. But in the two months he's owned the team, Wilf has displayed a sense of generosity and public relations wisdom far beyond anything McCombs will ever have.

    He's certainly doing all the right things so far, highlighted by this week's fan-friendly subsidy that will spare the team's most loyal followers from being gouged for attending training camp practices in Mankato.

    On Wednesday, Wilf and the Vikings agreed — at a cost in excess of $100,000 — to swallow the admission fee that would have cost fans anywhere from $5-$20 to attend what always have been free practices.

    Wilf inherited this mess from the McCombs regime, which was never the least bit shy about squeezing every possible nickel out of the Purple cash cow.

    Technically, it was Mankato officials and not the Vikings who were going to charge a practice admission fee. But it was the Vikings who put the clamps to Mankato last year, soliciting bids from other prospective host cities to drive up the price.

    Not wanting to lose the training camp it has hosted for 40 years, Mankato agreed to cover the Vikings' training camp expenses and provide the team a cut of revenue. But in order to finance this deal, city officials were forced to find new income streams — like charging admission for practice, something that no other NFL team currently does. (Washington tried it in 2000, but scrapped the plan after one year due to fan complaints.)

    The McCombs-era Vikings happily signed off on this plan. The Wilf-era Vikings soon realized it was a terrible idea from a public relations standpoint to basically extort money from the team's most dedicated fans.

    Whether it was public backlash or competitive disadvantage that caused the Vikings to waive the practice admission fee is unclear. It also doesn't matter: Either way, it was the right thing to do.

    So far, that has been the Wilf way. And that bodes well for the Vikings' future.

    Whatever happens this season, you're not likely to see Zygi bellowing "Purple Pride" and back-slapping when the Vikings win; storming into the locker room to berate the players when they lose; and generally making a buffoon of himself while suctioning every possible cent out of the operation.

    What you hopefully will see is an owner who lets the football people handle the football operation; who make wise business decisions; and who conducts himself in an unobtrusive, professional manner.

    That's what a good team owner does. And that's exactly what this one has done so far.

    This column is the opinion of Times sports editor Dave DeLand. Contact him at 255-8771 or by e-mail at [email protected]

    Zigy responseds

    DeLand column: Another good call from Wilf

    It's 1:25 p.m. Tuesday, the start of a routine workday. I walk into the office, sift through the mail and begin listening to my phone messages.
    There are the usual few: a wrong number (we get lots of calls for Union Pacific Railroad), a hang-up call (click) and somebody asking how the Twins did Monday night (they didn't play).

    And there was this one, recorded at 11:41 a.m.:

    "Hello Dave, this is Zygi Wilf calling from the Minnesota Vikings."

    Well, sure it is. Billionaires call me all the time. That's probably Ted Turner on line two. OK, who is this really?

    "I just wanted to call you and talk to you about the article you wrote and let you know that I enjoyed reading it."

    This can't really be him, can it? Zygi Wilf? The Minnesota Vikings' new owner? Calling here? Calling me?

    "I'll look forward to seeing you. Thanks."

    I'm still a bit skeptical — and, frankly, shocked. The concept of an NFL team owner calling a sportswriter with a compliment on a story (I wrote about Wilf's impressive public relations savvy on Sunday) is about as believable as the concept of Matt Birk sprouting wings and joining the Air Force.

    This is the St. Cloud Times, not the New York Times. I work at the fifth-largest newspaper — in Minnesota.

    My exposure to billionaire team owners has been extremely limited. Jane Fonda — who at the time was married to Turner, who at the time owned the Atlanta Braves — once nudged me out of the way while getting into her limousine after a 1991 World Series game in Atlanta, but that's the closest I've ever gotten.

    I've talked with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor in a press conference setting; he, too, seems pretty much like a normal guy who just happens to have a buttload of money and a pro sports franchise.

    The voice purporting to be Wilf sounded the same way — like a normal guy, not what you would expect from a billionaire real estate developer and owner of Minnesota's No. 1 athletic entity.

    This isn't at all what we got from the Vikings during the Red McCombs era, when it always seemed like the owner was blowing smoke up your keester and would say just about anything to just about anybody to advance his agenda.

    And when the phone rang again at 2:30, I heard the same voice.

    "Hi, Dave, this is Zygi Wilf."

    There was an audible pause; I was even more shocked than before.

    Hi, Zygi. It's awfully nice of you to call.

    "Well, I wanted to thank you for the article you wrote the other day,"he said, his deep voice revealing a bit of a New Jersey accent. "My wife thought I should call. I like to reach out to people who write accurately."

    If this is somebody playing an elaborate joke, they've got the impersonation down cold.

    If this is Wilf, I'm even more impressed.

    His first few months of ownership have been marked by a succession of classy gestures — toward employees, toward fans, toward sportswriters (I have to assume that he's called more than one).

    Imagine that: a Vikings owner who would take the time to call somebody he doesn't even know with a few kind words.

    It's a nice thought. Just like Wilf's phone calls.

    This column is the opinion of Times sports editor Dave DeLand. Contact him at 255-8771 or by e-mail at [email protected]

  2. #2
    mnjamie's Avatar
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    Re: Why i liking Zigy

    Ziggi has the right mindset for an owner. Fan first, then business man. He will in a very short timeframe become the best Vikes owner ever.

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