Echoing the comments made by coach Brad Childress in recent days, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said today that the team’s pursuit of Brett Favre has ended. Asked if there was any chance the Favre topic could be revisited down the read, Wilf said, “No, no.”
Wilf expressed no public disappointment about the quarterback’s decision to remain retired and not join the Vikings after an offseason of considering a return to the NFL.
“Just like the coach said, when you have an opportunity to go get a Hall of Fame quarterback you try and do it,” Wilf said. “We realize, like he did, that when training camp came around that it was in or out and we’re very happy with what we have here. [We're] very excited about being out here. To be coming back this season [as] the division champs and the talent out there is great and the competition is going to be great. I’m looking forward to a great season this year. A lot of good things to look forward to.”
Asked about the business side of things and what not getting Favre meant from the ticket and merchandise sales angle, Wilf said the team “never factored that in at all.”
“We just wanted to make sure, as we always do, that we get players on our team that will make us better,” he said. “It didn’t work out and we move on. We’re looking forward to what’s going to unfold here. We have a very talented team and there’s going to be a lot of competition. Excited to be back here in Mankato as division champs and we’re going to fight hard to keep that.”
Wilf said he has “great expectations” for this season, one that will be the second to last on the five-year contract Childress signed before the 2006 season. Wilf did not say if there have been any talks of a contract extension for his coach, although there are no indications that has happened.
“We never make any pre-conditions on how the season should turn out or what conditions would be necessary,” Wilf said. “We’re very happy with our coach and the coaching staff and the players. We’re very excited for this year. That doesn’t ever come into my mind.”
So when would Childress’ contract situation enter Wilf’s mind? “Right now, what’s on my mind is Mankato and enjoying this preseason and looking forward to starting off this year as division champs and proudly to defend it. We have some tough competition as you all know and every game last year was a tough one. We want to make sure that we get better and we improve and we stay ahead of the competition. That’s all we can expect.”
As for the Vikings’ push for a new stadium on the site of the Metrodome, Wilf said: “We’re working with the [Metropolitan Sports Facilities] Commission to bring up a plan that will address a new home for the Minnesota Vikings currently on the Metrodome site right now. We look forward to working with the people on the Hill [in St. Paul] and trying to get a home that we all know is something that all Minnesotans want to have for our Vikings. We’re going to work to find solutions and I think we’ll be very successful as long as we continue to communicate with the people on the Hill and try to find those solutions. That’s what we’re doing right now and hopefully as we get into the session we can be more pro-active in terms of the plans that we and the commission are going to unveil.”
Wilf said he does feel like the politicians are giving the Vikings an open ear on the stadium matter despite the fact nothing has been resolved for his team.
“Yes, I think more and more as the years go on and as we get close to the end of our lease in the Metrodome [after the 2011 season], I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that the current Metrodome site is the right place to be,” Wilf said. “It has the infrastructure, the fans want it there, the people want it there, the corporate leaders want it there. It’s central to the whole planning of Downtown East. It’s something that’s needed right now in today’s economy. I think it’s important that when we talk about [economic] stimulus that you talk about [economic] stimulus in the right places. I think the Metrodome and the transportation system that’s going to be part of the whole Twin Cities is vital toward the vibrancy of the economy.
“Let’s not underestimate how important the Minnesota Vikings are to all the fans and to everybody who supports them. Like I’ve always stated, it’s a very important quality of life issue when you talk to anybody about the Minnesota Vikings. It’s one of the few sports franchises that the fans throughout Minnesota can really be proud of because we hold our heads up high and we’ve been able to in the last many years create a team, have a team that’s both a class act on the field and off. So we’re very happy about that and how we represent [the state]. Our goal was always to establish a world class franchise here and with the team we have here I think we’re there. We expect great things this season.”