Vikings' house-cleaning gets a bit sloopy with release of QB Wilson

July 09, 1992|By Bob Sansevere | Bob Sansevere,Knight-Ridder

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- One of the new television commercials for the new-look Minnesota Vikings shows the team receptionist on the telephone. We only hear the receptionist's side of the conversation:

"Minnesota Vikings. May I help you?. . . . No, I'm sorry. Mr. Walker is pursuing other interests. . . . No, Mr. Millard is exploring an opportunity in Seattle. . . . Who? No, coach Green felt he could benefit from a change of scenery. . . . No, no. We booted his butt, too."

Whose butt got booted? It's vague in the commercial.

"Now I know who they're talking about," Wade Wilson said yesterday, after the Vikings waived him.

They could have handled it better.

Here's some background culled from several sources: The Vikings tried trading Wilson and found no takers. His $1.2 million salary and his age (33) didn't help. The Vikings asked Wilson to take a $400,000 pay cut. He refused -- at first. Then he came around and said OK, I'll play for less. On Tuesday morning, team executive Jeff Diamond told Wilson to telephone his agent, Leigh Steinberg, and they would make a deal. Several hours later, the deal was off and Wilson was waived.

Why? New coach Dennis Green said he wants only four quarter backs in training camp -- two veterans to vie for the starting job (Rich Gannon and Sean Salisbury) and two kids to fight it out for third-string (Chris Cochrane and Brad Johnson) -- and Wilson was the odd man out.

Diamond and Green claim his salary wasn't a factor but, still, you wonder if the Vikings are looking to the bottom line at the expense of fielding a competitive team.

By releasing Wilson and Herschel Walker and trading Keith Millard, the Vikings unloaded more than $4 million in salaries.

We have no qualms with dumping Walker, that overpaid underachiever. But why not take Wilson and Millard to training camp? If Millard is half the player he once was, he's still better than many defensive linemen. And Wilson's trade value was likely to escalate once NFL camps opened; teams are always losing quarterbacks to injuries.

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