Players want Frazier to remain head coach

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 17, 2010 - 6:45 AM

His ability to relate to the Vikings and his low-key professionalism should persuade the Wilfs to keep him.

Leslie Frazier has a 2-1 record as Vikings interim coach, and if one took a vote of the 53 players, I think it would be unanimous for the former defensive coordinator to remain the head coach.

Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf will have to make a decision shortly after the season ends if they want to keep Frazier; otherwise, I'm sure he will be in demand with other teams. And if they hired him now, who knows? They might win an extra couple of games.

The players love and respect the guy.

"Yeah, I certainly think he understands some of the situations better," linebacker Ben Leber said. "But I don't know if ... that's been the key to the message he's getting across to us. I think it's just the way he's approached it. He hasn't changed who he was on defense. He knew who he was before he became a head coach. So I think guys just understanding who he is as a person has really helped out."

"I love his coaching ability and I love him on the field and off the field," defensive tackle Pat Williams said. "He's a good person and everyone loves him. He understands the game because he played the game.

"He's done a great job. I think he's a great motivator. He holds people accountable and that's what you ask for in a professional is a guy who's going to come in and do his job and continue to fight and work and he's done that.

"I mean, obviously, I think [he should keep the job]. He's our head coach and if that means he's the head coach in the future, we'd like that."

Said linebacker E.J. Henderson: "I definitely think it's a new attitude around here. A lot of the players have new faces, fresh smiles. That was the mantra from Leslie: Let the past continue to be the past and focus on these next six weeks.

"He's definitely a leader of men. I think that any situation that he's going to be in, you know all the guys look up to him, respect him. Being a former player, having a Super Bowl ring, I definitely think that he brings another little edge to the team."

A column by Dan Pompei in the Chicago Tribune this week suggests that Frazier's experience as a Bears player put him on the road to being an NFL head coach.

"And Frazier, if you don't remember, was quite a Bear," the story said. "He played six years [1981-86] and was the best cornerback on the 1985 defense before blowing out his knee on a punt return in the Super Bowl. ... And like Jeff Fisher and Mike Singletary, two others on that team who became [NFL] head coaches, the experience molded Frazier. After being part of the 1985 Bears, he said he understand the importance of solid leadership, both from the coaching staff and the locker room."

Frazier said he has applied things he learned from Bears coaches Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan.

Well, nobody knows whether the Vikings' record today would be better had Brad Childress kept the job. I wasn't in favor of firing Childress. But if the move had to be done, the Wilfs picked the right man to take over. Frazier has earned a chance to continue.

Respect for Kill

Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, who rushed 14 times for 116 yards against the Vikings on Monday, played at Southern Illinois under new Gophers coach Jerry Kill and is one big booster for him.

Playing for Kill "was special," Jacobs said. "He treated you like a man. There was a level of respect. He treated all players fairly. He expected the best out of you and wanted you to do everything you could to go out there and win. He stood behind you regardless of the situation. He is the perfect college coach."

When Kill was coach at Saginaw Valley State from 1994 to '98, he had a great rivalry in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who was at Grand Valley State at the time. In the five games between the two, Kelly held a 3-2 advantage, but the average margin of victory for all five games was a mere five points. In the final two games Kill and Kelly coached against each other, Saginaw Valley State won 30-27 in overtime in 1997 and Grand Valley State won 37-36 in 1998.

Kill received official visits on the Minnesota campus last weekend by Edina receiver Devin Crawford-Tufts, Mahtomedi offensive lineman Tommy Olson and Holy Family Catholic tight end/linebacker Peter Westerhaus, who have committed. Unofficial visits were made by Rosemount offensive lineman Joe Bjorklund, Bemidji linebacker Ernie Heifort and Chaska defensive lineman Wyatt Peiffer. Bad weather kept Eden Prairie defensive back Grayson Levine, Delano offensive tackle Nick Jacobs and Eastview safety Frank Veldman from visiting.

Jottings

Earlier this month, former Gophers infielder Jack Hannahan signed a minor league contract with Cleveland, a team with a shortage of infielders. ... Another former Gophers infielder, Robb Quinlan, signed a minor league contract with the Phillies after being released by the Angels.

Former Gophers wide receiver Eric Decker is finally seeing some steady playing time for the Denver Broncos after recovering from a foot injury. After not catching a pass through the first 11 weeks of the season, Decker has four receptions for 84 yards in his past three games, an average of 21 yards per catch. He had a season-long 38-yard reception in Week 12 against St. Louis.

Randy Moss continues to have limited production for the Tennessee Titans, with only five receptions for 62 yards in five games with no touchdowns. For the season, Moss has 27 receptions for 375 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games between the Titans, Vikings and Patriots.

Former DeLaSalle and Michigan State standout Alan Anderson is one of the top scorers in the NBA Development League, averaging 21.1 points per game for New Mexico. The 6-6 Anderson played 53 games for the Charlotte Bobcats from 2005 to '07 and spent the 2007-08 season playing in Italy, the 2008-09 season in Russia and Croatia and the 2009-10 season in Israel before returning to the D-League this season. ... Former Wolves first-round draft pick Rashad McCants was set to leave the Texas Legends after only three games to play in China, but that deal reportedly fell through, and McCants has yet to return to his D-League team after last playing Dec. 4. However, he remains listed on the Texas roster.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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