|By Ron Edwards
Sometimes you get what you did not wish for. We watched with great interest over the last three weeks as local fans and media called for the firing of Brad Childress. We wondered if the Vikings faithful understood what they were asking for: the promotion to head coach of the Black guy, Leslie Frazier, which would be the result of firing Childress.
Let’s be honest, my friends: the White press corps in Minneapolis didn’t see it coming.
The ownership of the Vikings didn’t have a lot of choice.
They are getting a quality “interim head coach” for a bargain basement salary (Coach Frazier won a Super Bowl as a player with Chicago and as a coach with Tony Dungy in Indianapolis; Dungy was Vikings defensive coordinator under Dennis Green). Don’t feel sorry for Brad. He will be paid $6.6 million to not coach the Minnesota Vikings.
As I wrote in this column on Sept 2, 2010, anyone with a minimal understanding of the psyche of professional sports saw this coming. In fact, I subscribe to the following: I don’t think it was Brad Childress who send the three White players to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, but Ziggy Wilf listening to the rhetoric of the White press corps in the Twin Cities.
One of the most troubling issues that was a part of the undercurrent leading to the collapse of the Vikings was the Tavaris Jackson bashing.
Jackson was in the top five of quarterbacks drafted in 2006 (two teams expressed anger that they didn’t get him). The Twin Cities media continued its bashing, turning the fans against Jackson and Childress, ignoring the problems they helped create in the locker room, which then spilled over onto the playing field, resulting in a 3-7 record, despite 10 Pro Bowl players.
Tavaris Jackson doesn’t deserve White media’s attacks and disrespect.
Brad Childress may be the smartest individual in this tawdry story because of two of his important decisions. First, he called out the racism surrounding the attacks on Tavaris Jackson regarding the starting of a Black quarterback.
Oh, I know, we’ve had All-Pro Black quarterbacks like Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, and Daunte Culpepper, but they were started by Black Head Coach Dennis Green. For White Minnesota, old philosophies like racism die hard, and Brad Childress recognized this.
Secondly, Brad Childress recognized Frazier’s value as a coach and a professional and made him assistant head coach and defensive coordinator a couple of years ago. Leslie Frazier has become a poster child for the abuse by NFL teams of the Rooney Rule (also interview minorities for head coaching positions), making Frazier the token minority interviewee seven times so they could then hire their desired White coaches.
When Brad Childress elevated Frazier, folks didn’t realize he was locking the Vikings into no other choice, so that if a coaching decision was made during the season, it would be the Black guy, Leslie Frazier, who would take over as head coach. And now, at long last, he has a chance to demonstrate what he can do. Leslie Frazier becomes only the second African American head coach to lead the Minnesota Vikings, the first being the legendary and very successful Dennis Green.
So despite tremors on the Vikings Plantation, the man who would represent the Frederick Douglass of his time has walked out of the mist of the unfairness of discrimination to finally get his chance at fairness. It is my belief that Leslie Frazier can turn it around, that he will have a successful audition in this second half of the NFL season.
So this is an interesting turn in history for a franchise that was extremely cocky in August of this year when it brought back quarterback Brett Favre despite how much his physical skills had slipped.
So, in closing, let us all wish Leslie Frazier nothing but the best. Now it’s up to the players, led by their 10 All-Pro players, to decide they can get it done and close with one of the greatest finishes in the history of the Vikings franchise, a finish that may be their last hurrah, as the Vikings may not be here in 2012, as many are on the verge of getting another thing they wish for, the Vikings joining our Lakers in Los Angeles.
Let’s reflect on how thankful we are for the 50 years of excitement, joy and wonderful Vikings memories, something that cannot be taken from us regardless of whether or not the Vikings team is taken from us.
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOn TheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.