Published Saturday, October 25, 1997,
in the Pioneer Press.

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Will Vikings throw the book at Green?

Minnesota Vikings President Roger Headrick said coach Dennis Green's job could be in jeopardy after Green threatened to sue the owners and buy the team in his autobiography, ``No Room for Crybabies.''

``Yeah, it could, but I'm not saying it will,'' Headrick said. ``First, we have to find out what is behind it. We have to see what happens next.''

Headrick said the Vikings board of directors will hold a meeting, perhaps as early as next week, to decide what to do about Green, who has one year left on his contract.

Headrick, Green's biggest supporter among the Vikings' 10 principal owners, met with Green on Friday and also talked twice with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Headrick said he was unaware of Green's plan until reading the book Thursday night.

``I told (Green) . . . that he should have spoken to me before he went public,'' Headrick said in a statement. ``We are both aware that any dispute between a coach and an owner that cannot be resolved at the club level is subject to arbitration before the commissioner.''

Jaye Dyer, another owner, said, ``We will have to deal with this, but just when I don't know. We will surely meet, but I don't know when we can. The fact-gathering has to go on. It's a weekend and an away game, and an important game.''

Dyer said he was ``stunned and flabbergasted'' by the book, which arrived in the Twin Cities on Thursday.

The Vikings play at Tampa Bay on Sunday. The teams share first place with Green Bay in the NFC Central Division.

``I just don't understand it,'' Dyer said. ``I think the real important responsibility of a coach is to be the buffer between outside distractions and his team. Now, here, on the eve of an important game, a pivotal game for us, the coach is a distraction.

``I've been trying to pull together any information that we can and try to figure out the rationale and what action, if any, that we should take.''

In the book, Green laid out a plan where he would sue the owners for contacting former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz in an unsuccessful attempt to make a coaching change last year.

``Hell, everybody sues everybody these days,'' Dyer said. ``It used to scare me to death, but now it happens so much I don't think much about it. But I don't want to sound blase about that. I hate lawsuits, courts and the whole business.''

Dyer denied being one of the owners who contacted Holtz. ``I don't think anybody contacted Lou Holtz,'' Dyer said. ``Lou Holtz didn't contact anybody here about the job.''

Dyer said he is taking Green's threat to buy the team seriously. ``I have no idea what Dennis' resources are or what resources he has access to,'' Dyer said. ``I just don't have any ideas.''

And he has no idea what Green's motivation might be.

``For the motivation, I've come up with a zero,'' Dyer said. ``You'd think this would be the last way to open negotiations on a new contract. It would seem to be a normal time when his agent would say let's talk about an extension.''

Gene McGivern, the book's co-writer, does not feel Green will follow through on the plan to sue the owners.

``I think part of the reason he went so far, and put a copy of the lawsuit in the book, was his way of saying that he is serious,'' McGivern said. ``I don't think he's trying to buy this team. I think he was trying to draw scrutiny on the ownership situation.''

But McGivern did say Green wants to own a team. ``It's one of his dreams,'' McGivern said.

Dyer said there are many factual mistakes in the book.

In the book, Green wrote that Headrick owns 2 percent of the team. But Headrick owns nearly 10 percent, according to Dyer.

``When I read something and I discover the facts are all askew, I usually just trash it,'' Dyer said. ``There are so many errors in this thing, and they are so wrong.''

In the book, Green wrote the Vikings are for sale, which Dyer said is false. ``I don't know where he gets that,'' Dyer said. ``You can say anything is for sale at a price. Right now, we are sitting as good as we've sat in a long, long time, as far as our record and the quality of our team.''

Dyer said Headrick is conducting an investigation into the controversy.

``Roger is going about the business of determining the facts and gathering as much information as he can,'' Dyer said. ``In due time, we'll consider everything we know and see if we can make any sense of it.''

Green met with reporters on Friday but wouldn't comment on the book.

After talking briefly about injuries and de-activations, Green was asked about the book. ``I'm not going to take any comments on anything other than Tampa Bay,'' Green said. ``We will do what we normally do on Fridays.''

When asked another question, Green walked out of the room without answering.

Green told the players about the book in a meeting earlier this week.

``He said he has a book coming out and that what he said is what he wanted to say,'' linebacker Jeff Brady said. ``Denny Green is one of the top-notch coaches in this business. There's nothing we can say bad about him. We are winning and everybody likes him a lot.''

If Green became the team owner, Brady said, ``I guess I would have to watch my mouth a little more, to be honest. I think it would be neat, but I don't know if that will ever happen.''

Wide receiver Cris Carter doesn't think this is much of a controversy. ``Somebody will buy the team,'' Carter said. ``Why can't it be him?''

When tackle Todd Steussie was asked if he knew of any other owners in the league who also coached their team, he quipped, ``Well, there's Jerry Jones.''

As linebacker Eddie McDaniel walked down the ramp from the Vikings' locker room toward a group of reporters, he spread his arms out wide and said loudly, ``No room for crybabies; the man speaks the truth!''