Friday, June 30, 2017
Any sports fan can tell you that Mississippi's own Walter Payton was a key member the 1985 Chicago Bears team that won Super Bowl XX. Payton was front and center of the "Super Bowl Shuffle," but he wasn't the only player with ties to our state on that team.
Tyrone Keys played at Callaway High School and Mississippi State University before playing for the Bears. Keys played keyboards on the Super Bowl Shuffle, which sold more than 500,000 copies.
A third player from our state played with that Chicago team, which beat the New England Patriots 46-10 and finished the season with an 18-1 record: Leslie Frazier, the 1985 starting cornerback.
Frazier didn't get to celebrate the victory on the field with the rest of his teammates. In the second quarter, he suffered a career-ending knee injury on a fake punt return.
During the preseason before the start of the 1987 season, the Bears told Frazier he couldn't pass a physical, and his career was over. The defensive back played in the NFL for six seasons before a trick play ended his career.
Frazier was a three-sport star at Stephen D. Lee High School in Columbus, Miss., where he earned nine letters—three letters each in football, basketball and baseball.
A highly sought after recruit, Frazier decided to attend Alcorn State University. He went on to become one of the best defensive backs in SWAC history.
He finished with 20 career interceptions in college and is still tied for the school's single-season record of nine picks in the 1979 season. He still owns the school's single-season record for interception return yards with 157 yards in 1979. Alcorn State won the SWAC championship during the 1979 season.
Frazier was named All-SWAC and All-American as a defensive back and in baseball for the Braves. He earned a degree in business administration before joining the Bears as an undrafted rookie free agent in 1981. Roynell Young, who was the first SWAC player drafted in the first-round, joined him in the secondary.
In the 1983 season, Frazier made a career-high and team-best seven interceptions for 135 return yards. He led the team during the Super Bowl season of 1985 with six interceptions for 119 yards and one touchdown. Frazier led the bears in picks from 1983 to 1985 and finished his career with 20 interceptions for 343 return yards and two touchdowns.
Frazier began to build the football program at Trinity College, now known as Trinity International University, in Illinois as the first head coach in program history. At just 29 years old when he took the job, Frazier built the team into a winner and won two Northern Illinois Intercollegiate Conference titles.
The former Alcorn star coached Trinity from 1988 to 1996, and the field was named in his honor in 1997. He became defensive back coach at the University of Illinois from 1997 to 1998.
Frazier earned his first NFL coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999 as defensive backs coach. He coached with the Eagles until 2002 before leaving to become the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals.
A two-year stint from 2003 to 2004 with Cincinnati ended with Frazier becoming assistant head coach and defensive backs coach of the Indianapolis Colts. The highlight of his time with the Colts was winning Super Bowl XLI over the Chicago Bears.
He spent just the 2005 and 2006 season with the Colts. Frazier became defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings in 2007 and became assistant head coach with his defensive coordinator duties in 2008.
Minnesota fired then-head coach Brad Childress during the 2010 season. Frazier was interim-head coach over the final six games of the season, posting a 3-3 record. The Vikings named him permanent head coach.
He posted a 3-13 record in his first full season as head coach in 2011. Minnesota improved to 10-6 in the 2012 season and reached the playoffs but lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card round.
The Vikings backslid in the 2013 season as the team stumbled to a 5-10-1 record. Minnesota owner Zygi Wilf fired Frazier at the end of the season.
Tampa Bay was his next stop, as he was the Buccaneers defensive coordinator from 2014 to 2015. He became the defensive back coach for the Baltimore Ravens for the 2016 season.
The Buffalo Bills named Frazier defensive coordinator for the 2017 season. Frazier was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Alcorn State Hall of Fame in 2012. He will join his Bears teammates Payton and Keys as a member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame during induction weekend, which is Aug. 4-5.
Joining Frazier in the 2017 Hall of Fame class is former high-school football great Marcus Dupree, former Jackson State University head baseball coach Bob Braddy, Sr., former University of Mississippi basketball player Eugenia Conner, former MSU and MLB pitcher Jay Powell, and sports-writing great Rick Cleveland.