It was the early 1990's when I had the honor to meet a real class act. It was late in January, and I had to catch a flight to Minneapolis from San Francisco. As I sat at the gate waiting for my flight, I recognized another University of Minnesota alum enter and take a seat.
I walked over and introduced myself to Tony Dungy as a Minnesota Vikings fan and a U of M graduate. I expressed my appreciation for the job he had done with the Vikings defense.
At the time he was the defensive coordinator, and the Vikings had the top-ranked defense. He stood up, shook my hand and thanked me.
He explained that he was returning to Minneapolis after scouting the East-West Shrine game. We chatted for a few minutes, and I walked away thinking what a genuinely sincere person Dungy was.
Fast forward to 2011.
Following the Vikings' practice this morning I had the honor of covering Leslie Frazier's press conference. While I didn't get to have a private chat with Frazier, I saw a lot of similarities between him and Dungy.
A soft spoken person, Frazier opened his press conference noting "the appreciation we get from our fans, I mean, a walk-through practice on a Saturday morning, to have this many people show up. Our support here has been terrific, which really solidifies in my mind we did the right thing by waiting to come down to Mankato to have training camp."
When linebacker Chad Greenway was asked earlier in camp about the transition from Frazier to new defensive coordinator Fred Pagnac he noted, "well, more yelling for sure."
They both followed their playing days progressing from defensive backfield coaches in the NFL to eventually making their way to Minnesota as defensive coordinators.
Here's hoping that Frazier can follow not only the success of that of Dungy's, but of another former Vikings defensive coordinator as well—Mike Tomlin, head coach of Pittsburgh, and bring Minnesota its first Super Bowl victory.