Sunday Wrap: Controversy Remains with Vikings

A day after a controversial draft, the Vikings continued to make headlines with the firing of Fran Foley and the pending settlement hearing.

The Vikings can change owners, coaches, players and even their uniforms, but one thing that doesn't seem to change is this franchise's ability to find controversy at every step.

The latest drama at Winter Park was last week's dismissal of vice president of player personnel Fran Foley after only three months on the job. Foley's attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, said he plans to file a grievance with the NFL claming his client was unjustly fired and therefore is due the $1 million he would have made under his three-year contract.

Negotiations on a contract settlement — one wasn't reached — began only a day after Foley helped run his first draft as a member of the Vikings organization. The Vikings' work on draft weekend was widely criticized, but that didn't appear to be the main reason Foley was shown the door.

Foley's problems began last month when it was discovered he had embellished his resume, inflating the titles of several of his college coaching jobs when he was actually a graduate assistant. Foley, who had been the San Diego Chargers director of pro scouting before joining the Vikings, admitted to this April 21 but in a later interview with all-sports radio station KFAN said he had the backing of ownership.

The resume situation, however, was just one problem.

According to several reports, Foley's abrasive nature also caused problems within the front office. Coach Brad Childress was among the people Foley had disagreements with during his brief tenure.

Kessler, the principal lawyer for the NFL Players Association since 1989, told the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune that Foley's resume wasn't what got him fired. "(It) was some type of internal issue created by people that did not want Mr. Foley to have the job in the first place," he said.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has refused to comment on the situation and the team only issued a one-sentence statement on its decision.

"Mr. Foley has been wrongfully terminated," Kessler said. "The Vikings are refusing to honor his contract, which we find shocking for a club who has taken such a major public stance on being ethical and having a code of conduct. It would seem to us that the code should being with honoring their contractual obligations."

It's expected NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will preside over the arbitration hearing, but that could be months away.

It was not immediately clear if Wilf will hire a successor to Foley, who along with Childress and vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski was considered part of the Vikings' Triangle of Authority.

Scott Studwell, the Vikings' director of college scouting, and Jeff Robinson, the team's coordinator of pro personnel, could be candidates for a promotion. Both interviewed with Wilf for the job before Foley was named.


NOTES

  • This weekend's mini-camp should shed some light on the Vikings' plans at middle linebacker. Dontarrious Thomas and Napoleon Harris saw the majority of the time there during the first mini-camps, but with weakside linebacker Chad Greenway being taken in the first round, it wouldn't be surprising to see E.J. Henderson in the middle. Henderson played that spot in 2004 before shifting to the weak side last season.

  • Greenway is confident he will be comfortable playing in defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin's Cover-2 system. "I think it fits me pretty well," he said. "I think I have the speed to play it, definitely. I played it a little bit in college, actually, and I think it's why they see the fit. ... They've seen me on film doing it. I think that it has an exciting upside for linebackers who can make some plays."

  • The minicamp will allow the Vikings' new offensive line to work together for the first time. Right guard Artis Hicks, 27, obtained in a draft-weekend trade from Philadelphia, is the final piece to a line that is expected to include Bryant McKinnie at left tackle, Steve Hutchinson at left guard, Matt Birk at center and Marcus Johnson at right tackle.

  • Cornerback Cedric Griffin, the first of three second-round picks by the Vikings, did not have an interception last season and finished his collegiate career at Texas with only three. Griffin said his hands are not an issue. "I don't think that I have to work on my ball skills because I didn't really get a lot of balls thrown at me in college," he said. "The thing I have to work on the most is my backpedal and my transition from my backpedal to my break. Other than that I think I'm fine and I'll fit in well with the Vikings."

  • Four Vikings vice presidents — Lester Bagley (VP of public affairs and stadium development), Steve LaCroix (VP of sales and marketing), Steve Poppen (VP of finance) and Kevin Warren (VP of operations and legal counsel) — all received three-year contract extensions. They had been working on one-year deals since Wilf purchased the Vikings last June.

  • Receiver Koren Robinson has changed his number from 18 to 81. Several draft picks also have chosen their numbers. Greenway will wear 52, center Ryan Cook will wear 62, Griffin will wear 23 and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson will wear 2.


    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's going to be a good time because we get to play each other two times a year, if not more in the playoffs. It's nice. It's a rivalry we can always have going. Even though we played on the same team in college, we were kind of rivals because we competed against each other in so many things and tried to push each other. Now it's going to be an actual rivalry where we're playing each other and going for the win, so it will be fun." — First-round pick Chad Greenway when asked about playing former Iowa teammate and fellow linebacker Abdul Hodge, who was taken in the third round by the Green Bay Packers.



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