Doug Chapman turned to the Vikings hoping his former team can help re-open a door to the NFL that it first opened to him 22 years ago.
A third-round draft pick in 2000, the former Marshall running back spent Aug. 2-8 at TCO Performance Center participating in the newly renamed Gilliam-Reichow Scouting Fellowship, a program for aspiring scouts and personnel executives.
"I would ultimately love to be in a position to make player personnel decisions," said Chapman, who played for the Vikings from 2000 to 2003. "I would love one day for my name to be mentioned in general manager conversations. And in order to do that, you have to be in the building, be in the sauce and know what you're talking about and understand the business of the NFL, from personnel to salary cap.
"I think my time is now. That's why I feel blessed to get this fellowship."
Chapman, 44, was one of three participants in this year's Gilliam-Reichow fellowship, whose new name honors former Vikings Frank Gilliam, one of the NFL's first Black scouts, and Jerry Reichow, an original Vikings player who became a longtime scout and personnel executive. The other participants were Tyrell Johnson, who played safety for the Vikings from 2008-11 and is now a high school teacher and coach in Little Rock, Ark.; and Shantel Rodgers, a football operations intern with Exclusive Sports Group in Indianapolis.
The program is run in conjunction with the NFL's Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship and Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship, which began in 2015. One of its alums, Ashton Washington, a Black woman, joined the Bears as a scouting assistant last year and was promoted to player personnel coordinator this year.
Chapman suffered a career-ending injury with the Chargers in 2004. He went on to serve one season on the football staff at Georgia Tech and also spent a decade in broadcasting — including work with ESPN and CBS Sports Network — before returning to his alma mater last year.
Charles Huff, who left Nick Saban's Alabama staff to take Marshall's head coaching position in 2021, hired Chapman, a Hall of Famer at the university, as director of player development and senior offensive analyst. Chapman's work in recruiting gave him the itch to rise again to the NFL level, this time as a scout.
"I played on Sundays," he said. "I know what a Sunday player looks like.
"To be honest with you, it's often harder to evaluate talent at the college recruiting level than the NFL because sometimes you're looking at a kid who is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds who's going to graduate college 6-6, 300 pounds," Chapman added. "Being able to understand how that guy is going to plug into your program, maybe not right away, but in two years is tougher to evaluate."
Chapman said he spent his week in Eagan shadowing everyone he could from scouts to top man himself, General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Chapman called Adofo-Mensah, who like Chapman is Black, an inspiration and praised ownership for its continued commitment to diversity.
"If you've talked to Kwesi, you know the guy is brilliant," Chapman said. "Not only am I proud of his career and where it's gone, but it's a reflection of what the Wilfs have done. A lot of places, they talk about diversity but the Wilfs, they promote it. They go out and act on it.
"It's also something the Vikings have been doing since I was here 22 years ago. I played for Dennis Green. Dennis was one of the few African American coaches at the time. So, when I think of the Vikings, whether it's past or present, I think about the opportunities that have been provided for minorities, from the top on down. Head coach and now GM. I'm going to be a Viking for life. I'll always claim purple."