In today’s society and culture, consumer’s seem to crave drama, and are willing to pay good money to see it unfold. Whether it is our television programming, political races, or professional sports we collectively want to see one human essentially do battle with another. Today, Leslie Frazier’s departure from Minnesota likely left a few NFL consumer’s unsatisfied, and when the purple history books are written his firing will be as forgettable as his three seasons as the team’s head coach.
Frazier is widely respected within NFL circles. Since stepping out of the shadows and into his prominent role, Percy Harvin sticks out as the only person with first hand experience that seemed unappreciative of Frazier as a man, and even that observation is pure speculation and lacks concrete evidence.
Instead, Leslie Frazier left Winter Park shaking hands with those he knew and looked as dignified as ever. When he got in his car, if he chose to turn on his radio, he likely heard quote after quote about how loved he is by his current and former players. He probably noticed some local and national media members talk about how they never dealt with a head coach as classy as he is. He surely heard the statements released by his former employers that included almost nothing but respectful endorsements of Frazier’s character.
Frazier himself, as could only be expected, exited his position with grace and composure by all accounts. His words included only the most subtle hints at disagreements and dysfunction within the organization. The organization, most notably Rick Spielman, also poked back a little bit to make clear that Frazier made decisions that led to his demise and that they are fully ready to start another chapter.
That was, and is, the extent of the drama with Leslie Frazier at the helm. He didn’t win enough football games. He didn’t make enough brilliant calls. He couldn’t get enough out of some of his players. He couldn’t make things click at the right times. He did, however, run the Childress Circus out of town and replaced it with an overall sense of coolness.
In some circles, there are folks rolling their eyes at the “pity party” that ensued following the news of Frazier’s departure, but I think to get annoyed is to miss the point. Few argue that Frazier should have been retained, or that he did enough to keep his job, but almost everyone is willing to let the man walk away with his dignity and his personal pride.
In the last few weeks we have seen an NFC North coach curse out his hometown fans. We’ve seen a midwest team fire a coach that was able to make a respectable run with perhaps the only quarterback situation worse than Minnesota’s. We’ve seen hundreds of reporters flock to the Nation’s capitol to watch a father and his son lose their jobs. We’ve seen plenty of things that will steal all of the headlines while the Vikings quietly move on to evaluating their options.
The coaching search sounds like it will be extensive and time-consuming. We will have lots of fun sifting through all of the options and all of the rumors. We will debate who is the best fit, what each candidate brings to the table, and we will all hope the future is bright. There is plenty of time for that.
Right now, though, I am still processing the events that have taken place since yesterday’s win closed out the Metrodome one final time. I’m certainly not crying about it all, it is no “pity party” on this end of your computer screen, but there is no doubt that this firing doesn’t entirely feel right.
The way Frazier’s career with the Vikings has ended, the manner in which it all took place, is perhaps the most shining example of why he shouldn’t be out of work for long if he chooses. The respectful quietness also makes me wonder if this decision won’t eventually end up looking like one of Rick Spielman’s worst.
Good luck, Leslie… from one Vikings fan with a computer.