Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman
On college scout Scott Studwell:
Before I get off here I want to make an official announcement. Scott Studwell came to me a couple months ago and told me he’s retiring. He’s going to step away. I don’t know how many talks I’ve had with him to convince him otherwise. But he’s decided it’s time for him to step down. He came here as a player in 1977 and played through 1990. I think during that time he was the all-time leading tackler in the NFL until Ray Lewis broke his record. I remember growing up, my brother was such a big Minnesota Vikings fan because he loved watching Scott Studwell play with the passion, with the heart, with the determination that he played with. He took that same approach since he’s been in the front office. He’s been in the front office since 1991. I think there’s been 230 players that he’s been involved with drafting here, 14 of those players were 30 time All Pro players, 20 players that he had his hands on ended up accounting for 63 Pro Bowl honors, and 24 players were named to the All-Rookie team. He’s a great husband, great father, and unbelievable grandfather and I know it’s his time. You can’t replace a Scott Studwell in your organization. That’s an impossible task to do. I think it will be very difficult for our staff moving forward without him being part of this process in that room. The only thing I can say is, Stud, thank you for your guidance, your leadership, and probably the most important thing, thank you for your friendship. I’d like to invite Scott up to say a few words.
Vikings College Scout Scott Studwell
Thanks Rick [Spielman]. One thing I can promise is that this is the last time I will retire from the Minnesota Vikings. There has been two and a half retirements up to this count. As hard as it is to see the end of the road with this wonderful organization, it has become an easier thing to come to grips with just because of the fact of where I am with my private life, with my public life. I’ve spent the last 42 years chasing a dream here. What I need to focus on now is to help my kids, help my grandkids, the people of the state of Minnesota, the people of the Twin Cities and St. Paul, help them fulfill their dreams. I am so fortunate and I am so grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had to spend this amount of time with this organization. It’s been a phenomenal run. It really has. I hope I’ve just given back a portion to this organization from what I’ve received from them. I came up here in 1977 with a lot of big dreams and had absolutely no idea what was going to happen. After seven weeks of hell in Mankato, I managed to make the football team. The rest is kind of history. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve worked extremely hard to stay and play here. Then I was lucky enough to get a call from Roger Headrick to move into the front office so that kind of started me on my scouting journey, which has been quite a wild ride. I couldn’t have done any of this without the help of a beautiful young lady by the name of Jenny Studwell, who has been my wife for the last 35 years and has allowed me to do what I do. She has basically raised four kids, me being the fourth. The other three are doing pretty well and I am still kind of a work in progress. For her to allow me to pursue this dream, to stay in this business as a scout, it’s been a tremendous sacrifice on her part. Being gone 225 nights a year and spending a life on the road is not easy on her and wasn’t easy on the kids. I missed a lot of time with my kids and that is something I have to make up for. I also owe it to my grandkids. It’s just I am at a point in my life where a lot of things have hit home in the last eight months. We’ve lost a lot of good friends here at the Minnesota Vikings which really kind of hit home with me. That made this decision easier. It’s been in the works for a while, we all know this. It’s something that I have tried to put off as long as I could, but this just feels like the right time to do it. I know we didn’t all get along real well at times but I’ve buried the hatchet with the media, unless you piss me off today [Patrick Reusse]. I have learned along the way that you guys have a job to do. We didn’t always see eye to eye on a lot of issues but I appreciate what you guys do for us, I appreciate the support that you give us and I appreciate the coverage that you give us.
Q: Considering all of the tackles you made through the years, do you feel pretty lucky to have gotten out of the game in one piece?
A: Yeah, I mean everything is still real. There aren’t any artificial parts. To play as long as I played and to have the production, I guess, that I had, I was very lucky to stay healthy. I was blessed with some pretty good genes from two wonderful parents. It’s been sad to see how some of these guys have struggled mentally, physically. I’ve lost some good friends. I’ve lost some great teammates. Right now, knock on wood, I can keep going at a good, steady pace and not fall ill to some of the problems that these guys have had.
Q: Why has it been so easy for you and Rick Spielman to work together?
A: I first got to know Rick when he was a Blesto scout. For whatever reason, we kind of clicked. We had a lot in common. I think we are both pretty blue collar people. I know he works for everything he deserves. I feel the same way about myself to a certain extent. There is nobody in this business or in this building, with the exception of maybe George [Paton], that spends as much time and effort for this organization. We came from different backgrounds and being the elder statesmen, I guess, we just had a kinship more so than a friendship. Now the friendship has really taken over. I remember when Zygi [Wilf] called me one day and asked me about Rick. I was kind of vying for the same position myself. I was like, “Zygi, what the hell do you want me to tell you? You are asking me questions about a guy that wants my job.” I couldn’t tell him anything bad about Rick because that is the type of person he is. Quite honestly, thank God he got the job rather than me. We’ve always just hit it off and always will. Unfortunately he only lives right around the corner or two blocks down, but I think maybe I’ll see him more now than I do here as an employee. I am looking forward to that.
Q: Did you escape the concussions as well?
A: I don’t remember if I had any concussions. Yes, I think so. Back then you got dinged and you either stayed on the field or you walked off the field and sat out for a couple plays and you went back in. It’s different now than it was. The game is as safe as it’s ever been. The athletes are so big and so fast and so strong and the equipment is unbelievable. It’s a violent game. It always has been, it always will be. I guess maybe I am one of the lucky ones that played as long as I did and had as many collisions that I did. Right now, I’m scot-free [knocks on wood].
Q: How many different college football stadiums have you seen?
A: I don’t know. Yes, probably .
Q: When you finally made the decision to retire, was it harder than you thought?
A: It has been just kind of brewing as the years have progressed. What really triggered it, this summer I found out that Keith Nord had gotten sick and not doing well. I tried to call him when we were in training camp here. He didn’t answer the phone so we kept playing phone tag back and forth. I was on the road in September. Keith was always kind of like my little brother, although we weren’t that fall apart age-wise. I called him as I was traveling from Ferris State down to Western Michigan. I was thinking about him so I called him that afternoon. I think it was a Wednesday afternoon and his phone didn’t pick up. I left a message and about a half an hour later his wife texted me and told me that he passed away that morning. That really hit home for me. We didn’t have a ton in common but we were very good friends. That is when it kind of finally sunk in. Time is getting short and I am not fatalistic but there is a lot of living to do and it’s hard to do when you are in this business, you can certainly get very overwhelmed. The sacrifices that we all make for this industry and this organization. They always talk about having the Vikings family and having your own family. It’s all legitimate and I’m privileged to be a part of all these families. Unfortunately you spend a lot more time with this family than you do with your own at times. That is what triggered it for me.
Q: When is your last official day on the scouting staff?
A: As far as I know my contract ends at the end of May, so we will see how that goes.
Q: Was there an “aha” moment where you realized how the scouting business works?
A: As far as an “aha” moment goes, no. I was very fortunate after coming off the field and trying to figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I was very fortunate that Roger took me under his wing and offered me a position. I had three unbelievable mentors with Jerry Reichow and Frank Gilliam and another scout that is still working for us, Conrad Cardano. They showed me the way. They taught me how to do this job. I give all the credit in the world to those three guys for giving me a chance and teaching me how to do it. It’s evolved tremendously from back in the day. It’s still about doing the work, spending the time and having the knowledge of what a football player looks like.