The top problem in the National Football League is alcohol abuse rather than drug abuse, says Minnesota Vikings General Manager Mike Lynn, whose starting quarterback, Tommy Kramer, is undergoing treatment for alcohol abuse.
Charged with drunk driving Friday night, Kramer entered the Hazelden Foundation in Center City, Minn., Sunday for 28 days of rehabilitation, his second stint in a treatment center in five years.
"I think our No. 1 problem is drinking in the NFL," Lynn said. "I don't think it's drugs. No question about that."
Kramer, 32, who started in the Pro Bowl after leading the NFL in passing last year, will miss at least the first two exhibition games but said he'll be keeping in shape while at Hazelden. The Vikings' training camp starts Aug. 3; the exhibition season opens Aug. 15.
"I'll be throwing while I'm up there," said Kramer, who is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 6 on the drunk driving charges. "You hate to miss training camp, but if it's something that's better for you, it's better for you."
Kramer was reluctant to acknowledge that he has a drinking problem, saying he agreed to go to Hazelden because it was part of the team's policy. "We'll find out up there" if there is a problem, he said.
Pat Tilley failed his physical examination and St. Louis waived the veteran wide receiver with a year left on his contract.
Tilley, who missed the final 15 games last season, underwent surgery Oct. 7 to remove a bulging disk in his back.
"He has a chance to get out while he can still play golf and do those kinds of things without being in pain," Coach Gene Stallings said. "He had an outstanding career, and there is no reason to risk more harm."
"I'm not retired," Tilley said.
Cornerback Louis Wright, 34, who appeared in five Pro Bowls during his 12 NFL seasons, shocked the Denver team by leaving with owner Pat Bowlen's secretary a letter saying he was "retiring from the best organization in football."
Wright had been late reporting to training camp, but Coach Dan Reeves said he had no indication Wright wouldn't play in 1987 and "This is certainly a blow . . . a shock."
Wright walked away from the last year of a contract that would have paid him $500,000 this season.
New England traded sixth-year offensive lineman Darryl Haley to Tampa Bay for an undisclosed 1988 draft choice. The Buccaneers are expected to station him at left guard, a position vacated with the offseason trade of Sean Farrell to the Patriots.
San Diego quarterback Dan Fouts, 36, will be examined by a private doctor because of stiffness in his lower back.
Jack Squirek, the linebacker who returned an interception for a touchdown against the Redskins in Super Bowl XVII, left camp without a word to anyone in charge. Cut before the 1986 season by the Los Angeles Raiders, he was being given a chance to come back.
Pittsburgh placed tackle Ray Pinney, running back Frank Pollard, cornerback Erroll Tucker and linebacker Anthony Henton on the physically unable to perform list and re-signed 10-year pro linebacker Dennis Winston.
Atlanta reached a contract agreement with veteran quarterback David Archer.
Chicago called a news conference for today to announce the re-signing of Walter Payton, the NFL's all-time leading rusher.
Running back Derrick Harmon, who spent much of last year injured, retired at 24, after four years with San Francisco.
Houston signed kicker Florian Kempf, a 1982-84 Oiler, as competition for Tony Zendejas.
Miami cut rookie Alvin Blount, Maryland running back being tried at wide receiver.
Wrapping up draft pick signings except for No. 1 Mark Ingram (Michigan State receiver), linebacker-rich New York contracted one more linebacker, Maryland's Chuck Faucette.