Apr 26, 2012; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman talks with the media after the introduction of the 2013 1st round draft picks at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Most of what we’re getting out of Winter Park on the firing of Leslie Frazier is complete tripe of the expected “he was a great guy and a classy individual and a heck of a coach and I’m sad to see him go” variety. Unsurprisingly, not one single player has a bad thing to say about Frazier as he packs up his stuff and calls it a day. Not even Chris Cook is mad at him.
And not one single player has a bad thing to say about Rick Spielman either. Even though Spielman is arguably far more to blame for the team’s poor performance two of the last three years.
Well you can’t expect current players to bad-mouth Spielman too much. Some of them want to come back to Minnesota next year, and the ones who don’t have the Vikings in their plans still need to mind what they say, lest they create the perception among their prospective future employers that they are malcontents and whiners.
Ex-players thankfully are not bound by the same rules of etiquette. The guys who are out of the game can say anything they want. Ryan Longwell is one such individual. He is unfettered by employment concerns. And he has a Twitter account.
Earlier on Monday, Longwell tweeted this:
Who does Longwell think was the right guy to fire? We can only guess.
But yeah, he means Rick Spielman.
Longwell arguably has reason to be bitter with Spielman. The kicker was given a contract extension in 2011 only to watch the Vikings draft Blair Walsh in 2012. Longwell was unceremoniously dumped shortly after the draft. A similar fate was visited upon Longwell’s pal Chris Kluwe early in 2013.
Hard to argue with the results of the Longwell-for-Walsh swap out. Longwell’s skills were clearly fading at the time, and all Walsh has done in two years is become one of the NFL’s best, most-reliable kickers.
But despite the facts of the situation, Longwell still clearly feels that Spielman did him wrong. He isn’t ready to call out Spielman by name, but he doesn’t have to. We know who “the wrong guy” is.
The list of players with a gripe against Spielman seems to grow every time the Vikings cycle out their veterans in favor of younger players. Roster turnover is a reality that all teams face, but most general managers get that there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle those delicate situations.
Spielman apparently hasn’t yet learned how to handle these situations with the proper amount of tact. But as long as he keeps drafting guys like Cordarrelle Patterson, Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith, I’m guessing most fans will forgive his ethical lapses.