EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (May 30, 2006) -- The Minnesota Vikings hired Rick Spielman as vice president for player personnel, four months after passing on him in favor of the now-fired Fran Foley.
Spielman, an ESPN analyst and former Miami Dolphins GM, interviewed for the opening when it was first created in January, but the Vikings elected to go with Foley. The hire turned out to be a disaster, with Foley being fired on May 3 after inaccuracies on his resume, clashes with other Vikings management and a draft that was widely panned.
On May 30, Spielman said he didn't hesitate at all to sign a three-year deal and jump at the opportunity that he thought had passed him by.
"Not one bit," Spielman said. "Not one bit at all. To come into an organization with the ownership, with the people in place here already, and for you to be a part of that ... things work out for a reason."
Spielman left the Miami Dolphins in June 2005 after five seasons with the club, including a nightmare 2004 season in which the team went 4-12, one of the worst records in franchise history, and dealt with the abrupt retirement of running back Ricky Williams and the midseason resignation of coach Dave Wannstedt.
Spielman was widely criticized throughout the 2004 season for personnel decisions, including when he traded a second-round draft pick to Philadelphia for quarterback A.J. Feeley, a bust with the Dolphins.
Before that, the brother of former NFL linebacker Chris Spielman held personnel positions with Detroit from 1990-96 and Chicago from 1997-99. Spielman left the Dolphins as he became increasingly irrelevant with new coach Nick Saban having complete control over the roster.
"When you go through a scenario we went through in Miami ... we had natural disasters down there, coaching changes, three offensive coordinators in one season," Spielman said. "We had a lot of different things happen that you can't predict, but I always look at things as a glass half full. ... There's not a lot of people that have the same experience I have from that aspect, from the disasters that hit. You look at it as such a great learning tool."
He replaces Foley, who was hired without having held a similar position before and has filed a request for his breach of contract case to be taken before NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue for arbitration.
"We are extremely excited to hire Rick as our vice president of player personnel," Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said in a prepared statement. "We are impressed with Rick's expertise, passion, character and work ethic."
Wilf, new coach Brad Childress and the rest of the Vikings' front office were not made available for questions.
Though effusive in his praise of Wilf and Childress, Spielman was reluctant to talk about the actual power structure and who would be making the final decisions. He said he would work with Childress, vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski and director of college scouting Scott Studwell.
"Sure, we're going to have disagreements, just like everybody else does," Spielman said. "But, it's not what's best for me, it's not what's best for coach Childress, it's not what's best for Scott Studwell, it's what's best for the Minnesota Vikings. And that's what we're going to do."