The hot-button issue among players that retired before 1986 is how the NFL has neglected to give them a living-wage pension while players after the 1986 threshold have a much better situation.
"I think it's shameful, personally. I think the people that built this league, wasn't it Jim Otto who lost his leg? Of course, Jim Otto had about 20 operations on his knees too, so that's probably a big issue," Foreman said Wednesday at a press conference in anticipation of his induction in the Vikings Ring of Honor at halftime of Sunday's game. "I think the history of the game and what it is today was built on those people back in the '50s, '60s and '70s, and they're being ignored and it shouldn't be that way. It really is a shame."
Otto played from 1960-74 for the Oakland Raiders and was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980. He retired before the Raiders and Vikings met in Super Bowl XI on Jan. 9, 1977, when Foreman was the Vikings' featured back, but Foreman still sees Hall of Famers and part-timer players alike who aren't being treated well by the union that is supposed to support them, Foreman said.
"When I go to the Super Bowl and I see some of these people, it's just amazing what you see. Most of them are on those little carts that carry them around and can't walk," he said. "I am fortunate that way whereas I don't have those issues."
Foreman sees the broken-down bodies among the players he played with – like Bill Brown and Jim Marshall – those who came in purple after him, and those he played against.
One of the sadder stories is that of former Vikings guard Brent Boyd, who says his bouts of depression and his inability to hold a job are due to concussions he suffered in his first days as a Viking.
"He's got some serious, serious issues," Foreman said of Boyd. "I see John Mackey (former Baltimore Colt from the 1960s and 1970s) at a lot of functions. In fact, I will probably see him in New York and you know he is in a very serious state of dementia. When they announce his name, he just runs out like he is playing football. That's the only thing he knows. His wife has to be with all the time and has to tell him what exactly he needs to do. It is not a good thing.
"I think with the money the NFL has and the Players Association has, I mean they've got billions of dollars – why they wouldn't step up and do the right thing. Let these guys have some respect and some dignity. I don't understand it, I really don't."
Many NFL alumni from the 1960s and '70s across the league have been speaking out on the issue and the NFL has testified before a U.S. Senate committee.
"The men who played professional football decades ago deserve our respect and recognition, and their contributions to our game must never be overlooked," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on Sept. 18. "I honor them and their achievements and neither I nor the NFL clubs will turn our backs on them."
Goodell said that NFL clubs spend "close to" 60 percent of their gross revenues on player benefits and salaries and "our clubs contributed almost $150 million last year to finance medical, disability and retirement benefits for former players, and during the term of our current collective bargaining agreement, we project that our clubs will spend more than $700 million to fund just this package of player benefits. Owners are responsibly addressing these concerns, but they are simply not in a position to absorb significant incremental costs."
Foreman indicated that he is especially disappointed in how NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw, who played 15 years for the Oakland Raiders, has handled the situation.
"I'm very disappointed in how Gene Upshaw has defined his importance in the matter. Regardless of his stance and the Players Association stance, he's got to remember that we put him in there back in the '70s," Foreman said. "… When I signed up for the Players Association I didn't sign up for a retired players association. I signed up for the NFLPA, and then somehow it got separated. … There are a lot of things that need to be looked into, and hopefully they'll find a way to come up with some type of solution to the problem. It's a big problem."
While Goodell addressed several of the new steps the NFL is taking to increase benefits and medical assistance to its recently retired players, those who retired before 1986 are not satisfied with the progress being made for their benefits and pensions.
(Note: For in-depth stories on the alumni issues with the NFL and NFLPA, including numerous comments from many of the recognizable names of the 1970s, and on Brent Boyd's plight, see the upcoming issue of Viking Update The Magazine with Darren Sharper on the cover.) NOTES
"As far as carrying the football, you never worry about how many carries you get, you just want to have more carries," Foreman said. "With the things that they have now as far as keeping him physically fit, plus his overall talent is just amazing, I don't think you have to worry about how many carries he gets. I think you can give him more, personally. I think he's got a unique ability to make some big things happen and I think once they get their passing attack in order and kind of give him some options, I think there are some possibilities for this team."
Foreman also commented on the Vikings' final drive Sunday when Peterson wasn't in the game.
"I have no clue why he wasn't in. I guess that is the coach's decision. I would have wanted to have been in there at that time," Foreman said. "I think anybody that's competitive would have wanted to be in. So he wasn't and I don't know why he wasn't, so that's not my concern."
Childress said the Vikings-Packers rivalry has provided the most overtime games (five) in the history of the NFC Central/NFC North Division, and nine of the last 13 winners of the division have been either the Packers or the Vikings. He also said that in the last 10 regular-season games, both teams have scored 239 points.
"This is a great rivalry and good old-fashioned black-and-blue division football. Our guys are looking forward to it," Childress said.
For the Packers, DE Michael Montgomery (knee) is out. TE Bubba Franks (knee) and CB Al Harris (back) did not practice. LB Desmond Bishop (shoulder), T Chad Clifton (knee), WR Donald Driver (toe), Favre (right finger), DE Cullen Jenkins (ribs), WR Greg Jennings (hamstring), RB Vernand Morency (knee), DT Corey Williams (knee) and CB Charles Woodson (foot) were all limited in practice.