Frazier stays focused despite short contract
FEB 23, 2013 12:37p ET
Considerate and professional, Frazier is regarded as one of the nicest men in the NFL. He's calm and doesn't get overly worked up over situations that arise. His players on the Minnesota Vikings credit him for just those virtues.
Even when slighted — in this case not receiving the longer-term extension he was expected to receive this offseason — Frazier doesn't make a scene and chooses his words carefully.
Frazier met with reporters on Friday in Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine, the first time he had spoken publicly since the team picked up his option for the 2014 season instead of signing him to an extension after the Vikings improved from 3-13 in 2011 to 10-6 with a playoff berth.
Local reporters said Frazier seemed "agitated" by not receiving the longer-term deal most believe he had earned. But Frazier wasn't willing to air his complaints.
"I moved past it," Frazier said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "It is what it is, and I've got to concentrate on getting our team ready for this season."
Frazier handling his contact in this manner could be expected. The Vikings might have banked on his not causing a disruption. Asked a week before the option pickup was announced, general manager Rick Spielman acknowledged that he didn't think the situation would cause an issue with Frazier. It was a well-anticipated gamble.
Frazier's work was heralded after the season. Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf said they were pleased with Frazier. Spielman said two weeks ago that he expects Frazier will coach Minnesota for a "long time."
The team's tangible support was tepid at best, though, choosing only to pick up Frazier's option, which means he's signed for the next two years. Frazier himself sounded surprised by the half-hearted show of support.
"What I believe and what actually is, is what you have to deal with," Frazier said Friday. "You guys know the reality. And that's what I want to deal with, the reality of the situation."
The reality is Frazier will go into another prove-it season with the Vikings. From the team's perspective, allowing one more year to evaluate the team's development might be a good path. But is it the fair path?
Frazier told reporters that his agent, Bob Lamonte, would handle any responses regarding his contract. Lamonte a week ago said Minnesota never even reached out to negotiate an extension. Lamonte and Frazier were simply notified of the option being picked up.
Few people knew the team even held an option with Frazier. Given that, many expected an extension after Frazier led the Vikings to the biggest turnaround in franchise history. Only a year ago, Minnesota seemed more supportive of Frazier even after a 3-13 record. Then, Frazier guided Minnesota to its first playoff game since 2009 following a late-season, four-game win streak after the season seemed to be slipping away.
Players championed his style for keeping them on the right path.
"I can't ever forget that," Frazier said Friday. "They derive a lot of their energy from me. So I have to make sure I'm focused on what we've got to get done so we can have a great year."
Frazier, ever the gentleman, isn't going to cause a stir. He's going to keep any issues internal. The situation is awkward, and Frazier will do his best at downplaying the significance. It's who he is. It's also why the Vikings likely felt comfortable with their decision.
With just two years left on his deal — and with most NFL coaches rarely entering the final season of their contracts — Frazier could be back in this same position next year. Extension or not, Frazier is focused the same way for the upcoming season, in the true Frazier, consistent approach.
"My desire to win a championship overrides anything else," he said. "I'm not doing what I do for a contract. I'm not doing what I do for money. I want to bring a championship to Minnesota, period. So every decision I make, that's what it's based on."
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