What we've learned about Zygi Wilf

We’ve been discussing the Brad Childress contract extension since last month, and I think we’ve all made our positions clear. My final thought relates to the inferences we can make about owner Zygi Wilf’s management style.

Wilf is still a relative newbie in the world of NFL owners, and we’re still trying to figure out what kind of owner he is. Cautious? Impatient? Traditional? Innovative? When you look at the Vikings’ infrastructure and how it’s been built, you see Wilf has a touch of impatience channeled in a way that’s different than most professional sports owners.

If anything, Wilf has been highly aggressive in retaining his executives -- the opposite of owners whose impatience leads to frequent turnover. By my count, Wilf has dished out four significant contract extensions to his football management team since purchasing the team in June 2005:

  • Rob Brzezinski, vice president of football operations, signed an extension in January 2006 and another around March of 2008.

  • Rick Spielman, vice president of player personnel, was hired in June 2006. He signed an extension in March 2008, before his second draft.

  • Childress was hired in January 2006 and is expected to sign his extension this week.

Over that stretch, the Vikings are 32-25 in the regular season and 0-1 in the playoffs. They’ve improved their record in each of the past three years, and that has been enough to convince Wilf he has a long-term management team in place. He has now pounced on all three men long before they neared the expiration of their contracts.

Some of the most notorious sports owners impatiently dismantle their management teams on a regular basis. Wilf stands at the other end of the spectrum. He’s aggressively worked to keep his in place. Consider him an impatient builder.