Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf on Monday visited the set of NFL Network's Good Morning Football for an in-person interview.
Wilf discussed the legacy of Bud Grant, who passed away Saturday at his Minnesota home at age 95.
He also recapped the 2022 season, discussed the Vikings roster changes and plans for 2023 and tipped his hat to the recent heroism of K.J. Osborn.
1. Grant's legacy
The segment began with a montage of footage from Grant's time as head coach of the Vikings. Grant wrapped his 18 seasons as head coach for the final time in 1985, but he remained a trusted consultant.
The Wilf family, which will be entering its 19th season as owners of the franchise, appreciated Grant's wisdom and experience, retaining him to help impact their stewardship.
Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center opened in 2018 and features a special office for Grant that is just down the hall from ownership.
Wilf described Grant's passing as "heartbreaking news."
"No one personifies Minnesota sports and the Minnesota Vikings more than Bud Grant, and what an incredible impact — impossible to describe what he meant to the Vikings organization," Wilf said. "The impact he had, the players, the coaches that were around him, our entire building just loved this man, and as owners, to be able to be around him and hear the stories of the old football. It's not just the football and the NBA career, the NFL career, the coaching career, the Hall of Fame career, what a person he was. Just the stories he told, the lessons he gave all of us. He'll be sorely missed."
Wilf said the Vikings will respect the family's wishes as they work on ways to celebrate Grant's life.
View photos of Vikings Legend Bud Grant during his time with the team following his career as head coach.
2. First-year impressions of Adofo-Mensah & O'Connell
This time a year ago, General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell were preparing for their first foray into free agency in those roles with any NFL team. The draft followed, then the offseason program, training camp and preseason before a 2022 campaign in which the Vikings won the NFC North and claimed at least 13 victories for the third time in franchise history.
Wilf was asked about his impressions of Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell after the first year.
"Just the partnership they have together, the collaboration they have and the culture they've created," Wilf said. "Kevin is such a great communicator with our staff, with our team, and it's throughout the building. Great things in our first year with them as leaders, and we're looking for a lot more."
View photos of Vikings head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bud Grant.
3. Saying farewell to Kendricks and Thielen
The Vikings are one of multiple teams that is making moves to get under the salary cap for 2023 by Wednesday's start of the New League Year.
The moves have included tough decisions to release Eric Kendricks last Monday and Adam Thielen on Friday.
Wilf described his appreciation for those players and the impacts they've made on and off the field.
"These are two special people. Adam Thielen, from a workout player … to be one of the best wide receivers in our Vikings history," Wilf said. "Eric Kendricks, one of the best linebackers in NFL history and Vikings history, so what they've brought to our organization will be sorely missed, of course."
4. Thoughts on Jefferson & Cousins
Justin Jefferson has ended each of his first three seasons with a trip to the Pro Bowl and set multiple records along the way.
The records included Vikings franchise bests for receptions (128) and yards (1,809) in a season as Jefferson led the NFL in both categories.
Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell both talked at the combine about envisioning Jefferson with the Vikings for years to come. He'll be in the fourth year of his rookie deal, and Minnesota will have a fifth-round option because he was selected in the first round.
"We've got eyes, too, and the way he plays, he's just an electric player," Wilf said. "And also, off the field as well, just an incredible person. We want to obviously keep him for the long term. He's one of the most special talents in the NFL. We think he's the best wide receiver in the league."
As for Kirk Cousins, the quarterback will be entering the final year of his contract. The team and Cousins have the option of working on a short-term deal, a longer contract or having Cousins play out this season and seeing where both parties are at next season.
"Kirk is an outstanding quarterback. He's done a great job for us," Wilf said. "This past season, with Kevin O'Connell, took our offense to the next level, so we're looking for great things in '23, and Kirk is going to be our leader on the offense."
5. Free agency report cards
During the combine, the NFL Players Association released in-depth results of a survey with feedback from more than 1,300 players across the league, creating "free agency report cards."
Teams were graded on a variety of categories, including support staff, facilities and treatment of players' families. The Vikings finished with the highest grade of any team.
"We're really proud of it. It's a great testament to, really, our entire organization, so kudos to the whole organization," Wilf said. "We as ownership want to invest, of course, in fan experience and facilities and being part of the community, but number one, is the people in the building. It's an incredible place to work, and we're really appreciative of what that [report card grade] represents."
Wilf noted Executive Director of Health and Performance Tyler Williams, who just completed his first year, and Equipment Manager Dennis Ryan, who first began as a part-time assistant in 1975 and has been full-time with the club since 1977.
"We have great people in the building led by Kevin and Kwesi and our entire team," Wilf said. "We're real proud, and we put the capital in to make it happen, and it's really an honor to get that recognition."
GMFB host Jason McCourty, who played 13 seasons for the Titans, Browns, Patriots and Dolphins, said, "I think that survey speaks volume for players."
"1,300 players took part in that survey, and for you guys to be at the very top of the list, I know those Minnesota Vikings players appreciate it, and players across the league do because now you're setting a standard of what every building, every organization should be like," McCourty said.
6. Osborn's heroics
Wide receiver K.J. Osborn's heroic act to help pull a motorist from a burning vehicle in Texas last week thankfully ended well for all involved.
Wilf was asked about the story that went viral and said he wasn't surprised based on the high character he's seen from Osborn in three seasons with the team.
"So proud of what K.J. did here, such a hero. We're thankful that everyone came out of it well," Wilf said. "We're really proud of him, and I can't wait to give him a big hug when he gets back in the building."