Viking players arrived at Winter Park Monday morning for their final team meeting of the year, and there they learned that Leslie Frazier has been fired as head coach.
Multiple veterans including Adrian Peterson voiced their support for Frazier after Sunday’s season finale so you can imagine there were some unhappy reactions to the news that ownership had decided to let go of Frazier with a year remaining on his contract.
Indeed, Peterson seemed rather miffed by news of the firing, refusing to answer reporters’ questions after the team meeting had adjourned.
Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson was willing to offer remarks, saying, “I wish it didn’t happen…[Frazier is] like a father figure.”
Patterson added, “He’s like a father to me. He’ll talk to you about everything. He talked to us today, hard for him to give a speech.”
Jerome Felton also voiced support for Frazier, saying, “It’s disappointing. We finished the season strong.” Felton characterized the final meeting with Frazier as “emotional and depressing.”
Jarius Wright echoed Felton’s sentiments. “It’s sad. I wish the best for Frazier,” said the Vikings receiver. “It’s a very sad day for the players. I’ll miss Frazier a lot. Great guy, great coach. Wouldn’t say you could replace a guy like that.”
Harrison Smith said of the firing, “It’s a harsh business. We all love coach Frazier as a coach, as a man. We feel like we let him down a little bit. At least we finished it off with a win.”
Chris Cook spoke about Frazier’s influence on him. “He’s a good man. He helped me [with] being a more calm person and channeling the aggression I had when I first came in. It was hard to fight back the emotions when he came in to talk to us. Frazier got a round of applause when he left the room.”
Jamarca Sanford admitted that he teared up in the meeting but said Frazier never did. “He’s a strong man,” Sanford said of Frazier’s taciturn manner.
Another vocal pro-Frazier player, Brian Robison, put the onus on himself and the players. “You never want to see anyone get fired. What matters in this league is winning ball games,” Robison said. “We need to do a better job winning games.”
Christian Ponder also took some of the blame for Frazier’s fall. ”I didn’t play well enough to keep my job, it stinks to know that contributed to this,” Ponder said. ”I don’t think there’s a better person than coach Frazier in the NFL.”
Many players admitted they had learned about Frazier’s firing via social media and television before hearing it from ownership. Rick Spielman and Zygi Wilf did reportedly address the team about the coaching move this morning.
No decision has yet been made on the future of Frazier’s assistants, but it’s not believed many of them will be retained.