The conflict depicted between the general manager played by Kevin Costner and head coach played by Denis Leary in Draft Day is quite the contrast from the relationship between Vikings GM Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who was selected in January 2014 after Spielman's thorough review of candidates.
Andrew Krammer of 1500ESPN.com took a deep look* *at the bond that's forming between Spielman and Zimmer and found that the structure GM hiring a coach has had its share of success across the league and was recommended by former Bears GM Jerry Angelo.
"The head coach has to possess a sense of loyalty to the general manager," Angelo wrote in "Why GM-head coach relationships fail," a story for the National Football Post that was picked up by Yahoo. "The best way to achieve that dynamic is for the general manager to hire the head coach. In the same token, the general manager now knows that the head coach is 'his guy' and, as a result, he's going to do everything he can to make the coach successful."
Krammer noted recent "prosperous duos" under that model, as well as a couple of exceptions:
*Ozzie Newsome hired John Harbaugh in Baltimore, Ron Wolf hired Mike Holmgren and Ted Thompson hired Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, Mickey Loomis hired Sean Payton in New Orleans, Steve Keim hired Bruce Arians nine days after he was promoted to GM in Arizona. Some outliers include Bill Belicick's (relative) one-man show in New England and Seattle hiring Pete Carroll before naming John Schneider the GM. *
After covering the partnership of Spielman and Zimmer for 18 months, Krammer has observed the relationship as "fused by an outward respect and mutual need to win, which fuels the long days. In preparation for the 2015 draft, Spielman and his scouts met with Zimmer and his coaching staff for "six straight days...in one room, we went probably anywhere from 12 to 14 hours a day straight," Spielman said.
It's becoming clear in Winter Park and beyond that there's a mutual trust in both to handle their responsibilities, but that doesn't mean they operate unilaterally. In fact, they have an open exchange of communication and ideas to identify not only talented players but the ones that best fit the Vikings schemes.
An effective simile Krammer used was that of competitors in a three-legged race, "tied at the hip, for better or worse, and can only move forward if both work in unison."
"It's to the point now where you can pretty much almost look at each other and know what you're thinking," Spielman told Krammer. "I think that's a huge part and an extremely, extremely important relationship to have between the GM and head coach."