Leslie Frazier can kick that "interim" label to the curb and start planning for the future.
The Vikings announced Monday that Frazier is the team's head coach going forward after serving as the interim head coach since Nov. 22, when the team fired Brad Childress.
Frazier served as the Vikings defensive coordinator for the last three seasons until his promotion to interim head coach. In 2008, he also became the assistant head coach.
"We are thrilled that Leslie Frazier will continue to lead this football team," Vikings
owner Zygi Wilf said in a statement. "Our players and entire organization have great respect for Leslie. He has a vast knowledge of the game, both as a former player and as a coach, and he has a terrific way with those who play for him and work with him. We are very fortunate to have him as our head coach and look forward to many successful years together."
Players, who were cleaning out their lockers for the season before the move was made official, also supported the idea of Frazier gaining the job full time.
"Great guy. Great leader of men. I think he grabbed a hold of this team the last six weeks and did a good job with it," linebacker E.J. Henderson said. "So I definitely endorse it."
Frazier went 3-3 as the interim head coach at the end of a tumultuous season that included the in-season firing of Childress, the trade for Randy Moss (who lasted less than a month with the team), and the collapse of the Metrodome roof.
"We feel very favorably towards Leslie, the way he's handled things these last six weeks. The staff has also rallied around him and done a great job," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "We're excited for him to hopefully have the opportunity. We'll see what happens. I like obviously playing for him. I've played for him every year I've been the starter here. If he's going to be here, that's obviously a good thing on the comfort level."
As a coordinator with the Vikings, the defense has ranked in the top 10 each of the last three seasons – finishing eighth this year and sixth in 2008 and 2009. Over the last four years, the Vikings defense has allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game (85.1-yard average) and the ninth-fewest points per game (20.4) in the NFL.
"I could not have asked for a better opportunity in the National Football League," Frazier said in a statement before his press conference. "The Wilf family has continually shown dedication to building a world-class football organization and is a tremendous family to work with as we try to create and sustain a championship-caliber team. … I am very happy to lead our football team moving forward."
After playing cornerback for the Chicago Bears in 1985, the season they won Super Bowl XX, Frazier led an upstart football program at Trinity College (1988-96) before moving to the Division I level with the University of Illinois as its defensive backs coach, then went to the Philadelphia Eagles (1999-2002), the Cincinnati Bengals (2003-04) and the Indianapolis Colts (2005-06) before joining the Vikings in 2007.
He has a total of 18 years in the NFL – 12 as a coach and six as a player – and won Super Bowl titles in both roles. His first came with the Bears as a player, his second as an assistant coach with the Colts.
In his 12 NFL seasons and 11 years of collegiate coaching experience, Frazier has suffered losing seasons only twice. Over the last 12 years, he has coached on seven playoff teams and has been a part of six division championships. The 51-year-old has interviewed for seven head-coaching positions over the last three years while serving as the Vikings' defensive coordinator.
"Leslie is well-respected by our players, coaches and front office staff and has proven to be a winner on the field at every level of playing and coaching," Vikings owner Mark Wilf said. "He has a strong presence in the locker room and is an excellent leader, as demonstrated during some of the recent challenges we have faced."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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