Merriweather Deal Hits Snag; Landry Honored

Posted: April 23, 1989

A former agent for three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Mike Merriweather says a deadline imposed on his ex-client to sign with the Minnesota Vikings, by the start of today's NFL draft, may not be feasible.

According to terms of a trade Friday between the Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Merriweather must sign a contract by noon today for the deal to be completed. The Vikings have agreed to trade their first-round pick in the

draft in exchange for Merriweather's rights.

Merriweather, 28, did not play last season because of a contract dispute.

Mike Blatt, Merriweather's former agent, said Steelers president Dan Rooney ''wants to ruin Mike Merriweather."

Blatt said he did not think a deal with Minnesota could be reached. "My

gut reaction is Mike won't play," he said.

Merriweather, 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, turned down a four-year $2.8 million contract offer from the Steelers. He was seeking $4.2 million.

Minnesota general manager Mike Lynn said the Vikings are offering Merriweather about the same contract given all-Pro offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman, who signed for five years for $3.5 million. That would be about what Pittsburgh offered Merriweather.

"We're not going to go up," Lynn said. "It's not going to be a negotiation as far as we're concerned. It's going to be up to him to either accept it or reject it.

"It wouldn't surprise me if he felt it was inadequate, but we're not going to destroy the integrity of our salary structure by paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars more than our other Pro Bowl players.

"We don't want to inherit the Steelers' problems. We want him happy. We don't want the contract dispute. This was the only way we were interested in doing the deal."

Lynn said the Vikings, who are offering the 24th pick in the first round to Pittsburgh, prefer Merriweather to anyone available in the draft.

*

More than 100,000 people lined the downtown streets of Dallas yesterday to pay tribute to former Cowboys coach Tom Landry, a man praised by Texas Gov. Bill Clements as being "above all else, a winner."

City and police officials were caught off guard by the unexpectedly large crowd that watched a parade and then overflowed the plaza in front of City Hall on Tom Landry Appreciation Day.

"I'm overwhelmed," Landry said. "Can you imagine all these people out here on such a beautiful sunny day. This is the best thing I've ever been a part of. The people are so nice, it is unreal."

Fans spilled onto the streets to shake Landry's hand as his car inched along as part of a parade featuring former and current Dallas players.

"I don't believe in my wildest imagination I thought this would happen to me today," said Landry, the third winningest coach in pro football history. ''Your outpouring of love and concern through your letters and telegrams is something I will never forget. I know I am not worthy of the things that were said about me today, by any measure.

"I know I will probably never be in a parade again. But when I see you on the street, I'll say hello."

Landry coached the Cowboys during their first 29 years but was fired by new owner Jerry Jones when he took over the team in February. Former University of Miami head coach Jimmy Johnson was chosen to coach the Cowboys.

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