In January, the Seahawks abruptly fired coach Jim Mora, after the team secretly had interviewed USC coach Pete Carroll. Before hiring Carroll, the Seahawks were compelled to interview a minority candidate, in light of the requirements of the Rooney Rule.
And so they interviewed Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Though many (us included) believed the session to be a sham, the Fritz Pollard Alliance endorsed the process, which reportedly included an attempt to lure former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy out of a one-year retirement to serve as team president.
Speaking about the interview for the first time, Frazier said money that he had concerns about the process in Seattle. That said, he didn’t specifically say “Seattle,” but it’s pretty clear given the circumstances that he was referring to the Seahawks’ effort to shoehorn an oh-by-the-way minority interview into the train that was carrying Carroll up the Pacific Coast.
Indeed, Frazier’s comments prompted the following headline in the St. Paul Pioneer Press: “Minnesota Vikings’ Leslie Frazier stings after being token black interview for Seahawks.”
“With those interviews that I
was in back in January, I went into them with the best intentions, based
on advice I got from key people, and just tried to approach it the
right way,” Frazier said, according to John Shipley of the Pioneer Press. “Now, I can’t answer for ownership, you know, what
they were looking for and what they wanted out of the interviews. But I
went into it believing each one would be a legitimate interview.”
And so he was asked whether the interviews were indeed legitimate.
“Um, I don’t want to say which team, but one of them I was a
little concerned about, and we went right down to the wire about whether
I should even do the interview,” Frazier said. “On one of them, I left just
That said, Frazier knew or should have known before agreeing to be interviewed that the Seahawks already had locked onto Carroll; indeed, all Frazier had to do was turn on ESPN (or type our address into his browser). So, if anything, the interview merely confirmed what a reasonable person should have realized before sitting for the interview.
Our guess is that Frazier knew damn well he wasn’t getting the job, and that he eventually agreed to sit for the interview because he concluded that “playing along” with one of the branches of a 32-unit company will help him get the top job with one of the other 31 branches, eventually.
If that’s the case, “playing along” also includes not throwing stones after the fact.
Really, what good comes out of this for Frazier? Whether a candidate is black, white, red, brown, purple, or yellow, the ability to exercise discretion represents one of the key traits of any NFL head coach. In the eyes of more than a few owners, Frazier’s comments from Monday could do more damage to his prospects for landing a head-coaching job than a complete and total 500-plus-points-allowed performance in 2010.