His death was confirmed by a representative for the Vikings.

As general manager from 1975 to 1990, arriving the same year the Vikings were defeated in the Super Bowl by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mr. Lynn helped Minnesota win seven N.F.C. Central Division titles and reach Super Bowl XI, which they lost to the Oakland Raiders at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 9, 1977. He was also instrumental in the Vikings' move to the Metrodome in 1982.

But his accomplishments were tarnished by a 1989 midseason trade with the Dallas Cowboys for running back Herschel Walker, the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner. Mr. Lynn, who thought a powerhouse back was crucial for his team to win the Super Bowl, pursued the trade despite the objections of the Vikings' coach, Jerry Burns.

The Vikings gave up five players, two of them All-Pros, and a half-dozen draft picks over three years, including three in the first round. Walker proved a disappointment that season, scoring only six touchdowns in the remaining 11 games, and the Vikings lost the division to the San Francisco 49ers. Walker was released in 1992 after two more disappointing seasons.

The Cowboys used their draft picks to rebuild what was the N.F.L.'s worst team into the winners of the Super Bowls played in 1993, 1994 and 1996. The Vikings have not won a Super Bowl in four appearances and have not been back to one since 1977.

"I gave up too much," Mr. Lynn told The New York Times in 1992.

After he left the Vikings in 1990, Mr. Lynn became president of the World League of American Football, which went on hiatus after two seasons and was reborn as N.F.L. Europe. (It was dissolved in 2007.) In 1995, he tried to start a sponsor-owned league with CBS, but it also fizzled.

Michael Lynn was born on May 18, 1936, in Scranton, Pa. He dropped out of college to work at a Dixie-Mart and manage a movie theater in Memphis. He wrote a letter that caught the eye of Max Winter, owner of the Vikings, and started working as his assistant in 1974. Mr. Winter was a mentor, and promoted Mr. Lynn rapidly: in June 1975, he was named general manager.

Mr. Lynn and his wife, Jorja, had four children. Information on survivors was not available.

Although Mr. Lynn eventually sold his Vikings stock, he never stopped making money off the team. A 1979 contract with the Vikings guarantees him and his heirs 10 percent of luxury suite revenue at the Metrodome until the team moves to a new stadium. The arrangement has paid him $14 million to $20 million since it took effect in 1982.

The Vikings recently announced plans to build a $975 million stadium by 2016.