Most NFL followers aren’t surprised at all to learn that Minnesota Viking coach Brad Childress was fired Nov. 22 after leading his team to a disappointing 3-7 record so far this season.

The Vikings were considered Super Bowl contenders just three months ago when they convinced 20-year veteran quarterback Brett Favre to come back for one more shot at another championship title. But the season didn’t go as expected as Minnesota lost game after game. And when teams that are expected to win don’t deliver, the coach is always the first to go.

“It’s often difficult to articulate one reason why change is needed. There wasn’t one component that factored into this decision, just that we felt we made the best decision for the organization moving forward,” said Vikings owner Zigi Wilf, who was reported to be disappointed with how Childress traded for star receiver Randy Moss, then released him just four weeks later after a loss to the New England Patriots. “We have high expectations for this team,” Wilf continued, “and we want to capitalize on what’s left for this season.”

This leads to the promotion of defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, whom Wilf named the Vikings interim head coach for the final six games of the season. With more than 10 years of assistant coaching experience, Frazier is now the 13th African American to be named a head coach in the history of the NFL, and only the seventh Black head coach currently in the league.

Frazier, a former Super Bowl champ with the 1985 Chicago Bears, finally gets his shot to lead an NFL team after interviewing for the opportunity seven times in the past.

Now he has six games to prove he’s up for the challenge.

“The challenge I have before me is to make sure that we’re going in the right direction and at the end of the year we’re not a 3-13 team,” Frazier said, adding: “I don’t think there’s anybody on our team that can stand back and say, ‘You know what? I’ve done my part. I’m not the reason we’re 3-7.’ And if we have a guy like that, that guy has been a selfish individual.”

Many will speculate whether or not Frazier will bench Favre, who has struggled throwing a dismal 17 interceptions so far this season. Perhaps the new Black coach will eventually give backup quarterback Tavaris Jackson, who’s also an African American, a chance to run the offense. As for now, Frazier said Favre will remain the starter.

“There’s no hesitation from me in that regard,” Frazier said. “I’m of the belief that Brett Favre is going to get it going and the turnovers are going to come down and we’re going to get going as a football team.”


Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor