MINNEAPOLIS (May 3, 2006) -- The Minnesota Vikings fired personnel director Fran Foley, who plans to sue the franchise and have an arbitration hearing before NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
Foley's lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler, said that his client was "the victim of a power struggle" and was "stunned" when told of his termination, which ended a tumultuous three-month tenure that included an inaccurate resume and a draft that has been widely panned.
Kessler said he planned to file a proceeding with the league on May 4 to initiate an arbitration hearing with Tagliabue.
"Mr. Foley had a guaranteed contract and the Vikings breached that contract," Kessler said. "They induced him to leave a job he was very happy at in San Diego by offering that guaranteed contract."
The Vikings made the announcement in a one-sentence statement. Owner Zygi Wilf declined to comment on the decision after an afternoon news conference May 3 at the Capitol, where the team is trying to secure public funding for a new stadium.
Vikings vice president for legal affairs Kevin Warren, acting as a spokesman on behalf of the organization and not in a legal capacity, said the pending legal proceedings prevented him from offering much detail on the move.
"We're not going to make this into a media circus," Warren said. "We felt it was the best interests of the organization, and the future of this franchise, to terminate the contract of Fran Foley."
Foley signed a three-year contract with Minnesota on Jan. 26, coming over from the San Diego Chargers. But he admitted to several inaccuracies on the resume he provided the team, including in his early work history and in exaggerating his playing career at Framingham State College.
On a resume given to the Vikings, Foley said he held coaching positions with the Citadel, Rutgers and Colgate when he was actually a graduate assistant at all three schools.
He also said that he played four seasons at Framingham State, when he only played two.
The team issued a revised biography for Foley last month.
"He met with the owner, who assured (Foley) the resume was not a problem at all," Kessler said.
Foley was part of a three-way executive structure that included coach Brad Childress and vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski and was three days removed from playing a major role in helping to shape the Vikings' future on draft weekend.
The Vikings selected Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway and Texas cornerback Cedric Griffin with their first two selections, but raised eyebrows for picking center Ryan Cook and trading up to take quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in the second round. Both were projected to go in the late-third round or fourth round.
"They waited until after the draft, so they could have the benefit of his services and expertise on the draft," Kessler said. "Then they lowered the boom."
Wilf also declined to say if the team would hire a replacement for Foley, but did laud his executive team's draft weekend on April 30, saying, "We got everyone we wanted to get."
If they decide to replace Foley, college scouting director Scott Studwell could be a candidate. Studwell declined comment.
"He was aware that other people in the organization were unhappy with the amount of power (Foley) had," Kessler said. "It appears those forces have prevailed."