It could have been Tom Clancy building a new Vikings stadium

Best-selling author Tom Clancy smiles as he wears a Minnesota Vikings jacket during a press conference announcing the sale of the team to Clancy for $200 million in 1998.  (Craig Lassig/AFP/Getty Images)

Thriller author Tom Clancy has died.

The 66-year-old Marylander was best known for books like The Hunt for Red October and The Sum of All Fears. But he also laid claim to Minnesota’s NFL franchise back 15 years ago. That picture above shows him at a press conference at the Minneapolis Club after signing a letter of intent to purchase the team in February, 1998. He was planning to buy the team from a group of 10 owners for $200 million.

Clancy said at the press conference that  he’d “wanted to own a team for quite some time. The Vikings were in play … on the market. So decided to make a play for it.”

It turned out he didn’t have the money. His chance had come after the NFL instituted a requirement that one single owner have at least 30 percent of the team, and Clancy didn’t have that much equity to put into the deal himself.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue called time out on Clancy’s deal in May, and Clancy dropped his effort altogether a few days later. Clancy was also going through a contentious divorce that involved a battle over his assets.

After a few weeks of intrigue involving Vikings executives and other sports team owners, Texas car dealer Red McCombs bought the Vikings for $250 million in July. McCombs beat out bids by Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and then-Vikings president Roger Headrick. McCombs eventually sold the team to Zygi, Mark and Leonard Wilf and their partners for a reported $600 million in 2005.