The big controversy going on with Brett Favre and the Packers recalls two similar situations involving former Vikings quarterbacks Joe Kapp and Fran Tarkenton.
Both of the cases indicate how poorly these disputes can work out for players.
Kapp played three seasons with the Vikings and took them to the Super Bowl after the 1969 season, where they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.
However, even though he had a contract with the Vikings, Kapp left the team at the end of the 1969 season in a contract dispute that turned into a lawsuit when his West Coast agent tried to prove that the NFL contract was illegal.
Kapp was declared a free agent, but again his agent fouled things up, refusing to have his client sign a standard NFL contract with the Patriots, who wanted to add him to their roster. Kapp's agent filed a $2 million lawsuit against the NFL and Commissioner Pete Rozelle, and the court ruled in Kapp's favor.
The court's decision was that the NFL violated antitrust laws, but the attorneys for Kapp couldn't prove that he was damaged.
The Vikings tried to get him back, but he never played in the NFL again.
Then there was the case of Tarkenton, who was with the Vikings from 1961 to '66 and then refused to return for the 1967 season if Norm Van Brocklin was the coach. The Vikings traded Tarkenton to the Giants, and after the trade was made Van Brocklin was fired and Bud Grant became the coach. Tarkenton would have gotten his wish had he stayed.
Tarkenton came back to the Vikings in a trade with the Giants in 1972 and retired after the 1978 season despite Grant encouraging him to return.
Tarkenton threw for 25 touchdowns that final season, so he still had some football left in him. But Tommy Kramer had become the fan favorite, one reason that Tarkenton retired.
Season sale down
Steve LaCroix, Vikings vice president of sales and marketing, reports that season-ticket renewals for this season are around 55,000, with a 90 percent renewal rate. The Vikings have sold 4,000 new season tickets and have only 250 of the popular $250 season tickets left. The Indianapolis, Chicago and New York Giants games are the frontrunners, and the Green Bay-Seattle two-game package is doing well.
An indication that the economy has affected the sale of Vikings tickets is that they are offering $50 Holiday gas cards to existing season-ticket holders who refer somebody who buys a season ticket.
Colts coach Tony Dungy, here last week to sign one of his new books, said the knee problem that has slowed quarterback Peyton Manning isn't going to be a problem when Manning plays against the Vikings in the home opener Sept. 14.
"He's going to try to make it through the season. He just had some problems with it, with an infection, so we decided to take it out before it did become problematic," Dungy said about the minor surgery Manning had. "But he should be ready to go probably midway through training camp, and I don't think we'll miss a beat, really. We haven't planned on bringing any other quarterbacks in at this point.
Former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper is still looking for a job, and rumors that the Lions were on the verge of signing him aren't accurate. The Lions are in camp with Jon Kitna as the starter and with J.T. O'Sullivan and Dan Orlovsky backing him up. Culpepper, who represents himself, could be sorry that he didn't accept a one-year contract worth $1 million from the Packers.
Sure, the Twins had lost five in a row before Saturday's 11-4 victory over Cleveland, but overall they still have done much better than expected and stand second in the AL Central. General Manager Bill Smith was asked how the team has done so well.
"It's our starting pitching," he said. "When you have good starting pitching you are going to be in a lot of games."
He also said he was pleased so many players who started the season in the minor leagues have contributed in the majors. Outfielder Denard Span, batting .337, is the most obvious example among several.
"Every year you hope your minor league system is going to contribute to the big-league team," Smith said. "We are proud of our minor league system. We are proud of our scouting. We are optimistic. We think this club is going to continue to play at this level."
Jon Wefald, former chancellor of the Minnesota State University system and now in his last year as president of Kansas State, is the most sports-minded school president I've ever met. The other day Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith was talking about how three years ago Wefald tried to hire him away from Kentucky to be basketball coach at Kansas State. At the time Smith was also offered the Oklahoma job and one other.
Smith talked about how Wefald kept raising the offer to try to get him to Kansas State. "I kept telling him, 'It's not the money, President Wefald. I'm not looking to leave.' But he kept upping the offers," Smith said.
There have been complaints from Gophers football fans about the weakness of the schedule. Athletic director Joel Maturi provides a defense. "I think that's part of the change in philosophy, and we're working very hard to get at least one BCS conference team on our schedule every year," he said. "That will mean we have to play a game at home and we have to play a game on the road. We are enhancing our schedule, and I think Gophers fans will be appreciative. We have Syracuse on the road next year, Cal-Berkeley here, and then after that I think it's Washington State for a couple of years. Colorado for a couple of years, Oregon State for a couple of years. We're even looking into trying to play Texas, and maybe I'll go back at Notre Dame."
Tommy Thompson, Wild assistant general manager, was asked whether former Gopher Danny Irmen had a future with the Wild. "Irmen is a little bit beyond the summer development camp because he's 24 years old," Thompson said. "But he's working out every day downstairs. He's in tip-top shape, he's just recently married, so he's very, very happy in his life right now and I think he'll be ready to give it a good shot to make our club in September. His strength is [why] I call him the pit bull. He's on the puck, he can floor-check, he's smart, he's tenacious, he's aggressive. He's got good enough hands to go right to the net with the puck. He can do a lot of things for your hockey club."
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast twice a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. firstname.lastname@example.org