SBJ/April 30-May 6, 2012/In-Depth

Sports Lawyers: Kevin Warren

The story of Kevin Warren is the story of determination. So when the 48-year-old Minnesota Vikings executive says he wants to be an NFL owner some day, it seems folly to doubt him.

After all, Warren has faced long odds before and always managed to find a path to success. A car struck Warren when he was 12, breaking his femur and forcing him into a body cast for six months. It looked doubtful he would ever be able to play sports again.

Photo by: Steve Smith Photography
But Warren recovered and blossomed into a standout basketball player, earning a scholarship to Penn. His childhood injury led to a goal of becoming a sports orthopedist, but the course load and demands of basketball put a strain on that dream. Instead, Warren transferred twice, winding up at Grand Canyon University in his native Arizona. During a whirlwind four years, he earned his undergraduate, MBA and law degrees from three different schools.

Warren gained his first job in the NFL through an introduction to then-St. Louis Rams coach Dick Vermeil. The coach was looking for someone to run player programs, troubleshooting off-field issues. “I felt he was overqualified,” Vermeil said.

Warren was hired and spent four years in St. Louis, a tenure that included the Rams’ Super Bowl victory.

Later, in private practice in Arizona, he advised the Wilf family in what became a $625 million agreement to buy the Vikings. Since then, he has worked for the franchise, handling all legal issues along with day-to-day business matters and helping with the long-running quest for a new stadium.

Finding a stadium solution is putting all of Warren’s skills to work.

“It’s been a challenge,” Warren said. “Because on any day you can go from dealing with a legal issue to dealing with a finance-tax issue to a real estate issue to lobbying. And now you’re talking about playing” at the University of Minnesota while the stadium is built.

— Erik Spanberg

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