The stage was set Thursday morning at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
And shortly after the Vikings introduced Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as their new general manager, the move received plenty of kudos from Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan.
Souhan opined that while Adofo-Mensah might not have a traditional NFL background, the organization should be praised for thinking outside the box.
Adofo-Mensah is as nontraditional as any general manager in NFL history. That makes hiring him risky. The Wilfs should be applauded for taking this risk.
They could have played it safe, promoting from within or hiring someone with a deeper résumé and more recognizable name.
Instead, they proved open-minded enough to hire a former walk-on college [junior varsity] basketball player who worked on Wall Street and planned to become an economics professor before venturing into football.
Adofo-Mensah will be judged on performance and will be subject to the same criticism as any other Vikings general manager. Before the second-guessing and recriminations begin, let's celebrate this day in Vikings history, and thank the Wilfs.
Adofo-Mensah is the first Black man to hold the sole title of general manager in team history. Former Vikings Head Coach Dennis Green also had that power for part of his time in Minnesota, but it wasn't his sole responsibility.
The Wilfs, who purchased the team in 2005 and have been large supporters of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and the Vikings Social Justice Committee, stepped up again in the face of change.
Racial progress isn't a quaint aspiration. It requires action. Either you hire candidates of color, or women, or you don't.
Credit the Wilfs for putting their mores where their mouths are.
Credit them, too, for realizing that the NFL they grew up watching needs to change.
Souhan also noted that while Adofo-Mensah may have won the Day 1 press conference, he still has plenty of work to do now that he's in his new role.
But it was a strong start, and a fresh voice, for the Vikings.
Adofo-Mensah, 40, will have to prove himself, like every other general manager, but should be given a long time to do so.
Souhan's full column can be found here.
Mizutani: Nontraditional Hire? 'Thank Goodness.'
Dane Mizutani with the Pioneer Press also liked the hire.
Why is Adofo-Mensah the right person for the Vikings? Because he's not a traditional football guy.
His background in analytics allows him to separate the forest from the trees. He doesn't think he has all the answers. He looks at the facts and makes decisions based on those facts.
While the concept of analytics has taken on a negative connotation in some circles as of late, Adofo-Mensah succinctly described it as gathering information, then using it to make thoughtful assumptions. It's actually a lot like scouting, he said, even if people don't see it like that.
"If somebody watches a game, a player, they are making high-level assumptions and observations about what that player is doing," Adofo-Mensah said. "Now, humans are really great at that complex thinking, and so, a lot of times, that gift becomes a curse. You sometimes will miss the simple thing."
To that point, Adofo-Mensah looks at analytics as a way to ensure simple things aren't missed. He added that he still sees value in scouting in the traditional sense. Think of it as checks and balances.
"You appreciate that they are different," Adofo-Mensah said. "You want one to cover the other in terms of blind spots. It's just that combined approach. They honestly are the same thing. They are just two different avenues to get there."
View photos of new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah during his first day as a Viking at the TCO Performance Center on Jan. 26.
Wilf writes op-ed piece for Holocaust Remembrance Day
Thursday was a busy day for Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf, who introduced Adofo-Mensah as Minnesota's new general manager.
But it was also Holocaust Remembrance Day, an important day for Wilf and his family.
Wilf penned an opinion piece for CNN that called for the de-politicization of the Holocaust and to increase education about the horrific tragedy.
Yet as we mark this year's International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am terribly saddened by efforts to minimize the atrocities and manipulate the memory of the Holocaust for political gain here at home.
Seventy-seven years after the end of the Second World War, we have witnessed a disturbing surge in the politicization of Holocaust imagery that has distorted and warped its memory in disgraceful ways, often tied to debates about the COVID-19 pandemic or Israeli policy. The incidents are an affront to the memory of Holocaust victims and to all who espouse to support human rights.
Wilf and his brother, Zygi, the Vikings Owner/Chairman, are children of Joseph and Suzie Wilf — both of whom were Holocaust survivors.