Chuck Foreman's agent called Mike Lynn a "kamikaza (suicide pilot)" when the Minnesota Vikings general manager indicated the club would let the running back sit out the 1977 season rather than renegotiate his current contract.
"He thought I was risking my own career, because Foreman was so important as a superstar." Lynn says of the agent, attorney Tom Reich of Pittsburgh.
Lynn says when Foreman finally agreed to fulfill the 1977 and 1978 seasons on his old contract and agreed to two one-year contracts for 1979 and 1980, plus an option year. "He got one hell of a salary. He will be one of the highest-paid running backs in the league."
Foreman reportedly will receive upwards of $200,000 annually under the extended contracts.
But what if the all-purpose back had sat out the season, would like Vikings have had an offense to speak of?
"Well, first of all," Lynn says. "I never thought it would come to that. There has been no precedent, and he was under a valid contract for 1977 and 1978.
"We won games and our division title, before we had Foreman - not to downgrade Chuck - and before we had Fran Tarkenton, too. We probably would have down all right."
Wouldn't he have gotten an argument from the fans with that assertion?
"Not if we won. But, say, we lost our first four games, that would have changed fast. I don't think the fans were 'pro club' in the negotiations.
Lynn says the main obstacle in 18 months of talks was that Foreman wanted to be paid more for the years (1977 and 1978) already negotiated in his old contract.Foreman backed up his demand by saying that if he did not get it, he wanted to be traded, preferably to Miami.
"We said no," Lynn says. "The more the club was challenged, the more rigid it became. Once that became clear to Chuck and his agent, progress was made. I don't think he was ever really serious about wanting to be traded. He likes it with the Vikings. He warned to bring pressure, from the beginning.
"We told him he would not consider trading him and told every club that called about a trade the same thing."
Did the Redskins call about a trade for Foreman?
"No, they've already got all those great backs - John Riggins, Willie Spencer (a former Viking), Calvin Hill, Mike Thomas . . . ."
Lynn said Foreman is "not underpaid now (at a reported $100,000 annually, plus performance bonuses)."
Even with quarterback Tarkenton earning a reported $350,000?
"Tarkenton is in his 17th year: Chuck is in his fifth. Longevity's always been a factor in earnings. Tackenton has set almost every record at his position."