General Manager, Minnesota Vikings
In his 1st season as General Manager of the Vikings in 2012, Rick Spielman oversaw a dramatic roster overhaul and infusion of youth that paid off with a record-setting 7-win improvement over the previous season, a 10-6 record and a Wild Card playoff berth. Spielman enters his 23rd season as an NFL executive in 2013 and his 7th with the Vikings having assembled a solid foundation of talent through the draft, free agency and trades that will pave the way for future success.
Spielman assumed the Vikings’ Vice President of Player Personnel role on May 30, 2006 and directed scouting, free agency and draft preparations for the club before taking on his new role for 2012. Spielman has climbed the ranks of NFL personnel departments with Detroit, Chicago and Miami, ascending to General Manager of the Dolphins for the 2004 season. Spielman’s tenure with all 3 franchises has been highlighted by drafting impact players throughout the seven rounds and making key trades and free agency acquisitions. Spielman’s teams have won 5 divisional titles and advanced to the playoffs 9 times.
The Vikings have drafted players who have made immediate impacts on the club under Speilman’s direction. The team has used 5 picks in the 1st round since Spielman joined the club to select Adrian Peterson (2007), Percy Harvin (2008), Christian Ponder (2011), Matt Kalil (2012) and Harrison Smith (2012). All 5 were starters in their rookie seasons, 4-of-the-5 were All-Rookie selections, 3-of-the-5 were Pro Bowlers as rookies and Peterson and Harvin were each named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The 2012 Vikings relied heavily on contributions from the rookie class and newly-acquired free agents. The Vikings rookies set a team record when 5 (Kalil, Smith, Robinson, Ellison, Wright) started vs. Chicago (12/9/12). Rookie 6th-rounder Blair Walsh kicked his way into the club and NFL record books en route to All-Pro, Pro Bowl and All-Rookie honors, setting an NFL record by hitting 10 FGs of 50+ yards and broke the Vikings rookie scoring record with 141 points. Free agent FB Jerome Felton earned 2nd-Team All-Pro honors from the Associated Press and a Pro Bowl trip after clearing traffic for Peterson to post one a season for the ages as he ran for 2,097 yards to finish 9 yards short of the NFL single-season record.
Since Spielman began directing the Vikings drafts and personnel from 2007-12, the Vikings drafted 5 players (Peterson, Sidney Rice, Harvin, Kyle Rudolph, Walsh and Matt Kalil), signed 2 as free agents (Brett Favre, Felton) and acquired 1 in trade (Jared Allen) who have gone on to earn Pro Bowl honors.
In 2008 the Vikings engineered a pre-draft trade to land Allen from Kansas City, who has earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2008 and 2009. The club signed Favre as a free agent entering 2009 and the veteran QB directed one of the most exciting seasons in team history and set career-bests in several offensive categories. The 2009 Vikings boasted an NFL-best 10 players who earned Pro Bowl honors.
The Vikings ability to identify talent throughout the draft was evidenced in 2009 when all 5 players selected went on to start a game during their rookie season, from All-Rookie honorees Phil Loadholt and Harvin on to 3rd-round CB Asher Allen, 5th-round LB Jasper Brinkley and 7th-round S Jamarca Sanford.
He began his NFL career as a scout with Detroit in 1990 and worked with the club in college scouting for 5 seasons before adding pro scouting duties in 1995 and ’96. He moved to Director of Pro Personnel for the Bears from 1997-99 before joining the Dolphins in 2000 as Vice President of Player Personnel. He was promoted in 2002 to Senior Vice President-Football Operations/Player Personnel and eventually General Manager in 2004. Spielman left the Dolphins during the 2005 off-season and worked with ESPN as an NFL analyst before joining the Vikings. While with Miami for 5 seasons, the team had a winning record 4 times, won the AFC East in 2000 and went to the playoffs in 2000 and 2001 but missed the playoffs in 2002 and 2003 despite 9-7 and 10-6 records respectively. The team drafted its top WR, Chris Chambers, in 2001 and traded for RB Ricky Williams in 2002. Williams posted the top two single-season rushing marks in Miami history with 1,853 yards in 2002 and 1,372 in 2003.
During his 3 seasons with Chicago the team amassed some of the talent that has propelled the team to the top of the NFC North and found gems late in the draft. The 2000 draft class featured the core of the Bears defense in future years with 6-time Pro Bowler and NFL Defensive Player of the Year LB Brian Urlacher selected in the 1st round and Pro Bowl S Mike Brown, the Bears all-time leader in defensive TDs, drafted in the 2nd round. The team selected perennial Pro Bowl C Olin Kreutz in the 3rd round of the 1998 draft.
Spielman got his first taste of NFL personnel analysis as a college scout with Detroit from 1990-94 and added pro scouting responsibilities for his final 2 seasons (1995-96) in the Motor City. The Lions enjoyed one of the finest stretches in franchise history in the early 1990s, winning a pair of NFC Central titles in 1991 and 1993 and the team advanced to the playoffs in 1991, ’93, ’94 and ’95. The trio of consecutive post-season berths was a first for the team. The 1991 team set a franchise record with a 12-4 regular season mark, hosted and won a playoff game for the first time since 1957 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game against Washington, losing out on the chance to play in Super Bowl XXVI at the Metrodome. The Lions drafted well during Spielman’s tenure, selecting the core talent for the team and several players who earned regular Pro Bowl accolades. The club drafted WR Herman Moore in the 1st round of the 1991 draft and he went on to four Pro Bowl berths while defensive linemen Robert Porcher and Luther Elliss were 1st-round picks in 1992 and 1995 respectively and each earned multiple trips to Hawaii. The team drafted Lions career scoring leader K Jason Hanson in 1992 (2nd round), who has earned a reputation as one of the top kickers of his era.
Following Spielman’s playing career at Southern Illinois from 1983-86 he was invited to training camp with the San Diego Chargers (1987) and Lions (1988). As a collegiate player, Spielman was a 1st-Team All-Gateway Conference honoree as a junior and part of the 1983 NCAA Division I-AA national championship team as a redshirt freshman. His younger brother, Chris, was a Pro Bowl LB and a 2nd-round pick of the Lions in 1988. He played 11 NFL seasons with Detroit (1988-95) and Buffalo (1996-98).
Spielman has a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois and a master’s from Ohio State. He and his wife, Michele, have been active with children’s charities. The couple has adopted six children, Juan, Luis, Ronnie, J.D., Omie and Whitney.