EAGAN, Minn. – Thursday morning’s Minnesota Chamber of Commerce event, titled Unite the North, looked a little different but went off without a hitch.
The monthly meeting for all members was held virtually and hosted by the Minnesota Vikings, providing an inside look at the team for the business community.
Plenty of topics were covered during the 60-minute program moderated by “Voice of the Vikings” Paul Allen, from COVID-19 concerns and questions to a Q&A with Vikings teammates Kirk Cousins and Eric Kendricks. Autographed jerseys of the quarterback and linebacker were also given away to a pair of community members.
Below are eight highlights from the event.
A highlight of the morning’s program came near the end and as a surprise to participants when Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf joined the Zoom video conference.
Wilf expressed gratitude and well-wishes to business partners and the Twin Cities community.
“It’s great to be on the Vikings Hollywood Squares here,” Wilf said with a smile.
Allen asked Wilf if he’s had a chance to sit back and generate excitement for the 2020 season or if it’s too soon for that level of optimism.
“Not a lot of breaths have been taken. It’s been quite a whirlwind – around-the-clock Zooms and meetings and discussing and getting everything ready,” Wilf said. “But as the summer starts coming to the midpoint, you start feeling, ‘OK, it’s getting to be time soon.’ We’re getting to that critical point.
“The Draft was the same excitement as [always]; it was virtual, but it was great,” Wilf added. “A tremendous job by [General Manager Rick Spielman] and his team. And now Rick and [Chief Operating Officer] Andrew Miller working hard to get our facility ready for our players and coaches and everybody, the excitement is starting. It’s starting.”
2. Rick Spielman celebrates Year 30
Spielman addressed Thursday’s guests and touched on a number of subjects, including anticipation of the rookies signing their contracts, Cousins’ 2019 season and consistency of the offense heading into the 2020 campaign, and the way Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak fits so well into the Vikings blue-collar culture.
Allen wished Spielman a “happy 30-year anniversary” in the NFL, a career that started in 1990 as a college scout for the Lions. Spielman joined the Vikings in 2006 as the Vice President of Player Personnel and in 2012 was promoted to his current role.
“It seems like my first year in the league,” Spielman quipped. “Every year, there’s always something new that you have to deal with, and that’s what makes this job so exciting. It’s the challenges that you’re faced with, the adversities that you’re faced with, but that’s why you get up and come to work every day.”
3. COVID-19 reflections of COO Andrew Miller
Miller, who is approaching his one-year anniversary with the organization, acknowledged the challenges and disappointments of the past four months while remaining hopeful for the upcoming season.
Miller took a moment to reflect on positive takeaways he’s noted while navigating the coronavirus pandemic – namely, how members of the organization have responded to adversity.
“We have seen people rise to the occasion, we’ve seen people who adapt,” Miller said. “We’ve talked a lot about how … a successful organization, successful people, they adapt. They’re resilient. And they find ways to be positive and find the silver linings and find a way to evolve as circumstances change. We live in a world where the circumstances are always changing – not necessarily pandemic-related changes, but everything is changing around us at all times – and this has just has been a unique circumstance.”
Miller specifically mentioned Spielman, Vice President of Player Personnel & Assistant General Manager George Paton, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski, Head Coach Mike Zimmer and the coaching staff, Vikings scouts, the Information Technology department and members of the Vikings COVID-19 Committee those who have done an “unbelievable” job at rolling with the punches in an unprecedented environment.