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Updated: January 3rd, 2012 2:12pm
As GM, Rick Spielman gains full power of Vikings' football operations

As GM, Rick Spielman gains full power of Vikings' football operations

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - There no longer will be any question about who is making football-related decisions at Winter Park.

Rick Spielman, who was named the Vikings general manager during a press conference Tuesday, confirmed that "everything from the personnel side of it and the decision side will be my responsibility."

That means Spielman will have full control of the 53-man roster. Former coach Brad Childress had the same authority with the roster, but this past season Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier shared that power.

The Vikings finished 3-13 and owner Zygi Wilf and his brother, team president Mark Wilf, decided to make the change. Tuesday's announcement came exactly a year after Frazier was named the team's head coach.

Ownership at that time expressed confidence that Spielman and Frazier would work well together and indicated they felt Childress had been given too much power.

"My brother, Zygi, and our ownership feel very strongly that we needed to establish a clear organizational structure, accountability and consistency throughout our decision-making process, enhancing our ability to achieve success for many years to come," Mark Wilf said Tuesday.

"We are committed to doing everything we can to get the Vikings back on the winning path and bring world championships to Minnesota and all of our fans. We have a lot of work ahead of us and today is an important step in moving the Vikings forward."

Spielman would not say if he has the ability to make the call on whom the head coach will be. "That will be the ownership's final decision," he said.

Pressed on the fact that any general manager has to check with ownership before making a coaching change, Spielman said: "That's something I think you should ask the owners, just to make clarification on that. I'd rather have them answer that. But I know my responsibility is to have final say on all football matters."

Spielman said he will continue to work closely with Frazier on decisions going forward but that he will be the one accountable for the decisions. Spielman also made it clear Frazier is in no immediate jeopardy of being fired.

"Leslie's our head football coach going into next year," Spielman said. "I have the utmost confidence in him leading us to where we need to go."

Spielman joined the Vikings as vice president of player personnel in May of 2006 after Fran Foley was fired following a brief stint with the organization.

"I know in this position that I will be held accountable for all football matters going forward," Spielman said as the Wilfs and several Vikings executives watched the press conference at Winter Park. "I am very excited about that opportunity and ready to embrace the challenges ahead.

"With this structure in place, it's going to give us more consistency on how we're going to make decisions going forward. Three and 13 is not acceptable for fans of (the) Minnesota Vikings. It's not acceptable for our ownership. It's not acceptable for this organization, and I'm going to take my share of the responsibility in that 3-13 record.

"Moving forward, what I believe we have to do is look at the things we have done from the positive, but also the things we have done negatively. Where the mistakes were made, why they were made. We have to have open, frank, objective discussions going forward and then come up with a plan of action (for not) making those mistakes again."

Asked what he saw as the Vikings' No. 1 issue right now, Spielman was vague.

"It's hard to say," he said. "when people look at 3-13 it's a disaster. But I really believe internally everybody knows there are a lot of positive things going on. It may not have shown this year.

"I think by doing the structural change and (having this) structural organization, that will help clarify a lot of things in the building, so that there is one person responsible as we move forward. (That) should hopefully produce what we want to produce on the field going into next year and into future years."

Frazier called the promotion of Spielman a "good thing," even though it is a demotion of sorts considering Frazier previously had a say on the roster.

"It really enhances my role as head football coach," Frazier said. "I really think it's a positive. I'm all for it and I'm excited about Rick being in that role. I think it's a good thing for our organization."

Spielman said decisions on who is on the Vikings coaching staff will remain Frazier's call.

Spielman did say, "we'll look at everything," when asked if changes would be made in the football operations department but then quickly added, "I don't predict any changes in the scouting department."

Some restructuring might go on as others take charge of some of the duties that Spielman previously had.

Director of player personnel George Paton worked with Spielman in Miami and will be entering his sixth season with the Vikings in 2012. Spielman said Paton's duties could increase.

Spielman, in his 21st season an NFL executive, has held the general manager title once before in his career. That came in 2004, in his fifth and final season with the Dolphins.

Spielman had been hired by Miami as vice president of player personnel in 2000 and was promoted in 2002 and again two years later.

The Dolphins were above .500 from 2000-2003 but fell to 4-12 with Spielman as the GM.

"I was in very similar situation that I was in here for the past five years," Spielman said of his time with the Dolphins. "I worked in a very similar structure when I was with Coach (Dave) Wannstedt, and Coach Wannstedt having a lot of final say over the things we did.

"And then the structure changed, and we went through that season with the hurricanes (in 2004) and things like that. So I think as you look back through all of your experiences, and I'm a very big historian on seeing what happened, the only way to me that you get better is by experiencing some of the setbacks."

Injury update

Running back Toby Gerhart suffered an MCL injury to his left knee on Sunday and will be evalauted over the next two to three weeks. Frazier said it's a possibility Gerhart will have to undergo surgery.

Meanwhile, running back Adrian Peterson, who had surgery last week to repair his torn left ACL, is back in the Twin Cities.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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