Having covered the NFL fulltime for 20 years, I could think of nobody more deserving of the PFWA's Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman Award than Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Frazier and the late Greg Knapp, who was killed in a bicycle accident last year shortly after joining the New York Jets as a pass game specialist, each were honored Monday with the award, presented annually for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL.
Frazier, 63, is in his 24th season as a coach in the NFL and sixth as Buffalo's defensive coordinator.
Last season, he helped craft the league's top-ranked defense, allowing the fewest yards and points. Frazier’s Buffalo defenses also have been ranked in the league's top five in total yards in three of the last four seasons.
Frazier and head coach Sean McDermott have been criticized heavily for the way the defense malfunctioned during the final 13 seconds of regulation in a playoff game at Kansas City last January, allowing the Chiefs to get in position to kick a game-tying field goal as time expired. The Chiefs then went the length of the field to win it with a touchdown in overtime.
But who exactly was responsible for that meltdown may never be known, as McDermott has ostensibly protected the details as if they were the launch codes to this country's nuclear missile arsenal.
Either way, 13 seconds can't take away from a lifetime of achievement that has also included stops with the Eagles, Bengals, Colts, Vikings, Bucs and Ravens.
This, after a playing career as a cornerback with the Chicago Bears that had Frazier pointed toward Canton before he wrecked his knee in Super Bowl XX and was never able to play again.
Frazier had 21 interceptions in 70 games (53 starts), including playoffs in a career that lasted just five seasons.
If there was one negative in Frazier's playing career, it was his appearance in the relatively lame but nevertheless popular Bears' Super Bowl Shuffle video.
Frazier (jersey No. 21) doesn't get much screen time, which may not be a bad thing.
But seriously, congratulations to a deserving football lifer with a winning personality who's been pretty damn good at football for four-plus decades.
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