Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier was a key and relatively unknown member of the 1985 Chicago Bears defense. He was one of the league’s better cornerbacks. However, for some unknown reason, head coach Mike Ditka decided to run a reverse on a punt when the Bears were comfortably leading and Frazier blew out his knee and never returned to football as a player.
Frazier found another path in football. In 1988, Frazier took the head coaching job at a small school north of Chicago called Trinity College for nine seasons before moving onto the University of Illinois for one season as a defensive backs coach and finally onto the NFL where he started as an assistant for the Philadelphia Eagles in the same role. He eventually became the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Vikings before replacing coach Brad Childress in on an interim basis in 2010. He was named the full-time coach in 2011.
The most impressive thing people will say about Frazier is how great of a man he is both on-and-off the field. In addition to being a great football mind, he is a role model for players that may have their careers cut short by injury. Instead of letting an injury get in his way, he cut his teeth as a coach on the lower-level of football and worked his way to the NFL. It speaks volumes to the dues he was willing to pay.
Going into the season, the Vikings were considered one of the league’s weaker teams. Something happened along the way; the Vikings started to win some games. While they hit a small bump in the road, they’re one win away from making the playoffs. It’s unfortunate that the one team in their way is the Green Bay Packers, but they’ve overcome the odds so far this season, so what’s one more game? Frazier is a very cool and collected character, and his team responds to his style. With strong personalities up-and-down the roster, he doesn’t need to steal the show. He can sit back and coach.
Much of the team’s success is a result of Adrian Peterson‘s incredible season, but Frazier shouldn’t go unnoticed in Coach of the Year voting. And as a Bears fan, I just wish it was with another team.
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