Foley Hearing Today

The relationship between the Vikings and Fran Foley came to an abrupt end little more than a month ago. Today, both representatives of the Vikings and Foley will meet with an arbitrator to explain their sides of the story with almost $1 million at stake.

The relationship between the Vikings and former vice president of player personnel Fran Foley lasted less time than Eminem's most recent marriage and ended on just about as ugly of terms. In a case of "he said, they said," Foley and the Vikings will have their day in court (sort of) today.

An arbitrator for the NFL will hear the Foley grievance against the Vikings today, as he lays out his case that the Vikings guaranteed him a three-year contract worth $1 million.

The Vikings tried to work out a settlement with Foley after last month's draft, but, according to sources, the team's offer was a fraction of the total amount. Foley and his agent denied a buy-out, saying that Foley would have been content to stay with the Chargers, where he had worked the last several years without any public incident.

The Vikings, however, tell a much different story -- one of a man who was increasingly difficult to deal with. Reports of Foley berating underlings at Winter Park all the way up to heated confrontations with head coach Brad Childress have made the rounds, painting Foley as a person that did not have the people skills necessary to handle the position to which he was hired.

In the end, the arbitrator likely won't rule so much on the personnel issues as on the letter of the law from the contract the Vikings signed with Foley. If there isn't an "out" clause due to the responsibilities Foley would have with his new position, the Vikings will likely lose the case. What the contentious actions will likely boil down to is whether the Vikings in fact guaranteed all of Foley's money. If that is how the language is written -- much like the poison pill language put in Steve Hutchinson's contract -- the arbitrator may have no alternative than to award Foley his full compensation package.

There is no official timetable set for when a ruling will be made, but it is expected within two weeks.

* The trial of Fred Smoot is expected to go on as scheduled next week barring a last-minute plea agreement -- which at this point doesn't seem likely. Two of the four players charged have already had their cases ejudicated -- Daunte Culpepper's charges were dropped and Moe Williams was convicted only of the least of the charges he faced for action in a Vikings boat party last October.
* Speaking of Culpepper, he continues to make excellent progress in recovering from knee surgery. On Tuesday, he was cleared by Dolphins doctors to start running laterally to test the knee. Despite multiple reports that Culpepper wouldn't be ready until midseason, he remains convinced he will be ready for opening day of the regular season.

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