WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND, and right now, Leslie Frazier is getting his. It’s why the media is not running him out of town like Major Molineaux: The Vikings coach has never been anything less than a gentleman.
This, of course, can be interpreted as the dreaded “media bias,” but it’s really what’s more commonly known as courtesy. When people treat you well, you tend to give them the benefit of the doubt for as long as you can. So when the knives come out in earnest – it started slowly this morning in the inescapable wake of Sunday’s 44-31 loss to the Packers – they will be wielded with no malice.
It seems inevitable that Frazier will lose his job at season’s end. The Vikings are 1-6 with nine games remaining and few prospects. They have three equally inadequate quarterbacks with equal claim to the starting job; a slow, undermanned defense; and a great tailback whose life was turned upside down a few weeks ago more than he seems to understand. They will be lucky to win another game.
A great deal of this fact falls on Frazier’s shoulders; even more is traceable to bad personnel moves made above his pay grade. No matter, if it were a martinet like Brad Childress driving this ship, or the often abrasive Glen Mason, or know-it-all Kurt Rambis, the media’s focus would be on the head coach.
I very briefly helped cover the Vikings when Frazier was the defensive coordinator, the year they lost to the Saints in the NFC title game. That’s when he interviewed for a couple of head coaching jobs elsewhere. Afterward, it became apparent his interview in Seattle had been a token minority interview before the Seahawks hired Pete Carroll. I got him alone in the next day or so and asked Frazier if he felt that was the case. He said he wanted some time to think before he answered that question.
So that summer in Mankato, the first thing I did was track down the defensive coordinator and remind him of what he told me. He may have been hoping he’d never see me again, because I wasn’t around the team much and he didn’t know me. But he answered the question, and it was clear he answered it not because he wanted to but because he remembered and kept his word. He probably knew he’d take some heat for it, and he did, but he acknowledged that in retrospect, it seemed an unnamed team (Seattle) wasn’t straightforward with him.
Sportswriters deal with a lot of assholes. A lot of them. So when you come across someone who isn’t, especially in football, your first inclination is not to push them in front of a moving train. When the Leslie Frazier job watch kicks into high gear next month, and it will, very few will enjoy it.
That’s not media bias; it’s human nature.