Frazier takes reins, says 'matter of time' until Vikes in Super Bowl

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Touting Leslie Frazier's communication style, crisis-management skills and credibility with players, the Minnesota Vikings decided Monday to strip the interim tag from his title and make him their head coach.

Frazier stressed a team-first mentality and a belief that "it's only a matter of time" before the championship-deprived franchise wins a Super Bowl.

Frazier vowed a thorough examination of the roster, the staff and the scheme on both sides of the ball following a dramatic 6-10 failure that came after an NFC runner-up finish the previous season.

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The Vikings started 3-7 before Frazier took over Nov. 22 for the fired Brad Childress. They went 3-3 under the longtime assistant coach.

"I think we'll be able to look back at these last six weeks and say, 'You know what? That was the beginning of something special,'" Frazier, 51, said during his introductory news conference at Winter Park.

Mired in a mess of a season that started with a Super Bowl-or-bust goal, the Vikings saw Brett Favre get slammed to the turf and sprain his throwing shoulder Dec. 5. The roof of their domed stadium collapsed one week later, forcing back-to-back home games to be moved to new venues, and their scheduled Dec. 26 game at Philadelphia was pushed back two days because of a snowstorm.

Frazier's ability to keep his players focused during such travails, and despite being out of playoff contention, was a major factor in him receiving the full-time job.

"I was standing up in front of them and talking to them about how we have to approach every situation, and not always certain if they're buying in," Frazier said. "And then you go out and watch them perform, and you go, 'Yeah, they're buying in. They're listening.'

"So, for me, that was just another example of sticking with your message, believing in what you say, and if you're honest, if you're straightforward, people will follow."

The Wilf family has stressed stability and acted swiftly over five-plus years of ownership, and Frazier was selected in the same focused, confident manner.

"We took it very seriously, and we took a lot of input on this, but clearly Leslie is the right man for the job," team president Mark Wilf said of the hire. "He listens and makes good decisions. We saw a lot of that through a lot of the adversity, especially the last few weeks."

Frazier brings a warmer, more dynamic personality than the disciplinarian Childress, who turned off some fans and players by coming across as rigid and aloof.

Childress had final word on the roster. His hasty, solo act of jettisoning troublesome wide receiver Randy Moss upset the Wilfs and exposed a hole in the hierarchy.

Front-office titles will remain the same, and the Vikings won't hire a traditional general manager. Instead, Frazier and vice president for player personnel Rick Spielman will share authority over roster moves.

"It's about communication, trust and working together. And we feel very confident that it's the proper system," lead owner Zygi Wilf said. "I don't feel that when they discuss things out and communicate and talk it out, that there'll ever be a situation where we would have to be the ones to be calling for a tiebreaker."

Frazier said he has "a ton of respect" for Spielman. Their first collaborative task is obvious: find a quarterback or two. Favre is finally retiring, and Frazier said he wouldn't ask the 41-year-old to reconsider again.

"I can't think of any circumstance of where I would pick up the phone and say, 'Brett, do you want to come back next season?'" Frazier said.

"We don't want to be a team that's hovering around 4-12, 3-13. You don't want to be that. At the same time, you don't want to bring in a stop-gap guy and not develop a young quarterback for the future," he added. "I think we all want a young quarterback that we can develop and build our franchise around. That would be ideal, to find the next Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco."

The Vikings' defensive coordinator under Childress and a starting cornerback on the Chicago Bears' 1985 Super Bowl championship team, Frazier drew positive reviews from the players for his steady approach.

"He's always seemed like a head coach ever since he took over that role," left tackle Bryant McKinnie said. "He knows how to talk to you, and he respects you."

"He's a great leader," wide receiver Percy Harvin said before the news of the hire became official. "He's a players' coach, and he's somebody people would like playing for."

Childress hired Frazier to run the defense in 2007, after Mike Tomlin left to become the Pittsburgh Steelers' coach, and later appointed him assistant head coach. Frazier, who has coached in the NFL since 1999 -- serving as an assistant with the Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts before joining the Vikings -- has interviewed for seven NFL head-coaching vacancies in the past three years. This was the eighth.

The Columbus, Mo., native played college football at Alcorn State and broke into the NFL with the Bears in 1981.

"He played in the league, first of all," running back Adrian Peterson said after Sunday's season-ending loss at Detroit. "He has all of the respect from each and every man in this locker room. So when he talks, the ears will listen to what he has to say."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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