Mike Lynn dies at 76

Mike Lynn (Al Messerschmidt/Getty)

Mike Lynn, who served as general manager of the Vikings from 1975-90, died Saturday in Memphis. The successful and controversial G.M. was critical in the transformation of the Vikings from the Purple People Eaters heyday at Met Stadium to the Metrodome Vikings of the next generation of players.

Former Vikings general manager Mike Lynn, who ran the day-to-day operations of the Vikings from 1975-90, died Saturday at the age of 76 in Memphis.

Lynn, who helped develop the Vikings from the waning period of the Purple People Eaters era into the next generation of the Vikings franchise, was both successful and controversial in his role as G.M.

For all his moves, Lynn is likely best known as the man who orchestrated the 12-for-1 trade for Herschel Walker that brought the Dallas star running back to Minnesota and armed Dallas with a handful of first-round draft picks that many football historians claim was critical to the Cowboys building a Super Bowl dynasty in the early 1990s. Lynn was also known for cutting a sweetheart deal with then-owner Max Winter that paid him an ongoing portion of the Vikings luxury suite revenue that remained in place for the life of the Metrodome – a deal estimated to be worth between $15-20 million.

Lynn was a pioneer in the expansion of the NFL brand around the world. He tried to get a team in his hometown of Memphis for years and, after leaving the Vikings in 1990, he was put in charge of developing the World League of American Football (which eventually came to be known as NFL Europe).

In a statement posted Saturday afternoon on the team's website, the organization said, "The Vikings are deeply saddened by the passing of Mike Lynn. He was instrumental in the success of the Vikings for many years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Lynn family in this difficult time."

While much of the Vikings most significant successes came before Lynn took over, his achievements included one Super Bowl appearance, nine playoff berths and three NFC Championship Games. He was also instrumental in the drafting of Hall of Famers Randall McDaniel and Chris Doleman (as well as undrafted Hall of Famer John Randle) and Pro Bowl talents Terry Allen, Joey Browner, Steve Jordan, Tommy Kramer, Carl Lee, Keith Millard, Henry Thomas and Wade Wilson.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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