Stripped of high draft choices by their ill-fated trade for Herschel Walker, the Vikings haven't had a first-round pick since George Bush was vice-president. "This is the third straight year of this stuff for us, and it's tough," says Minnesota head scout Ralph Kohl. "I play one game a year, and man, the waiting gets to you."
The worst trade in league history finally was played out on Sunday, just as the Vikings were discovering that there were no takers in their bid to unload Walker. They now admit privately that they'll probably have to release him.
In the Oct. 12, 1989, trade the Vikings gave up three starters from their 1988 playoff team, two backups and eight draft choices that could have been Minnesota's foundation for the 1990s (first-and second-round picks in 1990, '91 and 92, a sixth-round choice in '90 and, finally, a third-round pick on Sunday). In return the Vikings got Walker, who has averaged 54 yards a game in 42 games, and a total of four draft choices between the third and 10th rounds in 1990 and '91. Those picks became Jake Reed, Mike Jones, Reggie Thornton and Pat Newman—household names all. Reed is Minnesota's fourth wideout, Jones is the third tight end and the other two are gone. As, soon, will be Walker.
Throw In Two of Those Super Bowl Trophies
How sorely did the 49ers want to move up from their No. 18 Spot in the first round? In the days leading up to the draft, San Francisco made several trade proposals to the Packers, who had the No. 5 pick, offering quarterback Steve Young, fullback Tom Rathman and defensive linemen Dennis Brown and Ted Washington. The 49ers also offered the Colts linebacker Charles Haley and defensive end Kevin Pagan as part of deals for either the first or second pick in the draft. The Niners selected Washington safety Dana Hall with the 18th choice.
The End Zone
Boy, is Keith Millard happy. Sidelined since September 1990 with a knee injury that twice has required surgery, he watched the Vikings plunge from being the NFC Central champions to a learn snuggling to reach .500. Millard begged Minnesota for his freedom last week, and the Vikings gave it to him when the Seahawks offered a second-round choice and a conditional pick in next year's draft for Millard, the 1989 NFL defensive player of the year. "I feel as if I've just been drafted by Seattle, like I'm 21 again," Millard said Sunday.