An open letter to everyone in the Vikings organization:
You’re blowing it.
You had a chance to build the classiest organization in the NFL around the classiest coach I’ve ever met. Instead, you’re going to get Leslie Frazier fired.
You’re going to regret this.
I’m here to tell you what to expect. The next coach will resemble Bill Parcells, because the Wilfs grew up idolizing him, or Bill Belichick, because he’s the league’s reigning supreme commander genius, and coached under Parcells when the Wilfs were idolizing Parcells.
You don’t want that. Sure, maybe the next guy will give you a better chance to win, but that’s only one of the many possibilities. He also might get fired after a year of making your lives miserable. The Wilfs are just as likely to hire the next Greg Schiano as they are to hire the next Bill Walsh.
Philosopher Thomas Hobbes called life “nasty, brutish and short,” and that was before Brandon Meriweather was born. Life in the NFL is nasty, brutish and shorter. Only exceptional football players get to play for more than a few head coaches. They know most head coaches are hard men steeled by ambition and warped by paranoia.
The Vikings had a chance to be different. Last year, they were different. They made the playoffs under a head coach who treated everyone he met, from secretaries to media relations underlings to reporters to players, as worthwhile humans.
He is a man of faith. Unlike many sports figures who invoke religion to duck questions and circumvent critical thinking, Frazier behaves the way a man of faith should. He walks the walk, talks the talk and does his job humanely in a league that treats most humans only well enough to shield themselves from future lawsuits.
Three years ago, Brad Childress went into a home game against the Packers. His team had made it to the NFC Championship Game the previous year, but in 2010 the Vikings were 3-7. Childress had good years and good moments as the head coach, but the end was near.
In a 31-3 loss to Green Bay at the Metrodome in November, his players bickered and appeared to quit. The Wilfs quickly fired him.
The year before, Childress had helped build a team capable of winning the Super Bowl. Because of his combativeness and internal power plays, he was ripe for firing the moment the Wilfs stopped believing he could win big.
Frazier is different. He will never challenge General Manager Rick Spielman’s authority. He won’t fight for increased power. But if the Vikings play like dogs for a third consecutive week and are embarrassed by the Packers on Sunday night, Frazier will become a lame duck coach at best.
The 2013 Vikings have failed because of poor personnel decisions and poor draft picks at the vital positions of quarterback and cornerback. They have also been done in by some bad coaching, most notably in the loss to the Bears.
The players appeared to offer less than full effort against Carolina. At one point of that game, defensive end Jared Allen appeared to be arguing with Frazier on the sideline before Frazier waved him off and walked away.
If Spielman had given Frazier a better quarterback and competent cornerbacks, tonight’s game might set up as the latest episode in the best rivalry in Minnesota sports. Under the circumstances, with Christian Ponder starting at quarterback only because the long shot signed to replace him suffered a concussion, this could become another 31-3 adieu.
If the Vikings get embarrassed for a third consecutive week and Frazier is fired, quickly or at the end of the season, make sure you apportion your sympathy appropriately.
Don’t feel sorry for Frazier. He took this job knowing the risks. He will have a long career coaching in some capacity.