The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 3, 2013

Wilfs take low-profile route to leading Vikings

EDEN PRAIRIE — For Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, leadership isn't about doing interviews about the state of the organization.

It's about placing a symbolic arm around a heartbroken defensive end who suddenly and unexpectedly lost his mother during the season.

It's not about breaking down film and deciding which prospect should be chosen with the team's first-round draft pick. It's about sitting quietly in the room and listening while the people they hired to do that job debate the decision.

It's not about standing on the sideline in full view of the television cameras, so the country can see them slapping the backs of their players and congratulating the head coach. It's about retreating to the privacy of the locker room after the game and handing a necktie to the star of the day.

The understated approach has paid off this season with their Vikings surprising almost everyone to rebound from 3-13 to make the playoffs.

"Their approach works. It's good that they trust the people they hire to do their job as opposed to micromanaging the situation," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said on Thursday. "It's refreshing in a lot of ways."

The Vikings (10-6) head to Lambeau Field on Saturday night for Episode III of their heated rivalry with the Green Bay Packers (11-5), less than a week after a 37-34 victory at the Metrodome that thrust them into the playoffs.

It's been a heck of a ride, with a 5-2 start preceding a stretch of four losses in five games that made every week a must-win in December.

The Vikings never panicked, taking cues from an ownership group that values patience and perspective in a league where the pendulum of emotion can swing wildly from one week to the next.

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