Meanwhile, Browner, who is black but had not voiced an opinion about racism at the Sept. 25 meeting, insinuated in a national TV interview on Oct. 1 that Lynn was a racist. To complicate matters, only one other Viking, defensive end Doug Martin, who also is black, stood behind Browner. When the press asked Browner to cite examples of Lynn's racism, he wouldn't. He talked only of "perceptions."
"The real question is, Why did Joey get hung out to dry?" says guard Dave Huffman, who is white. "Joey isn't one to say anything rash. He's not a troublemaker. If he sees a problem, then you'd better look into it. I don't perceive a race problem on this team. I think it's a player-management problem. But I may be totally off base. It was terrible that Joey was left dangling in the wind."
Wilson and Browner kept their disappointment in their teammates to themselves. "I let it die," says Wilson. "It was like a crack in a dam. Patch it up immediately or it'll break through."
Says Browner, "It was draining to me. But I'm a man. I learned to accept [the consequences of] what I said and play harder. I've promised not to speak about this any further. I don't want to do anything that will break the team apart."
In the weeks since the controversy over the racial charges, Lynn has started visiting the locker room before and after games. He is also predicting that Minnesota will become one of the five best-paid teams in the league by next season.
"I truly believe everybody knows we have a good thing going," says defensive tackle Keith Millard, who signed a three-year, $2.5 million contract in September. "A real good thing. We have a good system, with good players. We have a good chance to go to the Super Bowl. We've all realized you don't come across this very often. We've put aside any personal differences. We're doing everything within our power to win."
So far, it's working.