Much abuse is being heaped on the Vikings today for firing their just-hired VP of Player Personnel, Fran Foley, citing it as another example of an apparently clueless organization stumbling its way through a purple haze. Rumors are that the dismissal is due to Foley’s a) lying on his resume, b) his abrasive personality, c) his perceived failures (including wearing that ugly sweater) at the just-completed draft, or d) any and all of the above.
Personally, it was a decision I was hoping to see and I’m pleasantly surprised at the timing.
A little more than a week ago when Foley and the team had to announce not once, but twice, that there were discrepancies and clerical errors in his resume I rolled my eyes (my daughter showed me how). I thought then that if owner Zygi Wilf really meant it about running a first-class operation he’d fire Fran’s (it that’s his real name) butt, regardless of the short-term embarrassment it would cause. My next thought was that it wouldn’t happen because it was too close to the draft. The team wouldn’t want to create an extra level of chaos, and after the draft was over the issue would have dropped from consciousness (it was surprising how little was being made of the story) and the team and Foley would just continue on. In my mind, though, if that happened they could never be taken seriously when trying to hold up a higher standard of behavior for the players.
Maybe the dismissal was more about b, c and/or d above or something else we don’t know about, but as for me I’m encouraged that maybe, just maybe, Wilf means what he says about creating a high-character organization and is willing to take the short-term hit for the long-term benefit. Perhaps the off-season moves and kiss-offs to certain coaches and players do have more to them than just on-field performance issues. It will be an interesting to see if a these few reference points turn into an indentifiable trend in coming years.
One last point: whether Foley was hard to get along with was no concern of mine because it wasn’t my problem. I simply didn’t like his fabrications on his resume in the first place, or his later rationalizations and obfuscations. I definitely laughed at his sweater. As for the quality of the draft I have no opinion because it’s ridiculous at this stage to have one. We simply don’t know how good or bad it was until the players get onto the field (or not) in the next few seasons.
Everyone treats Mel Kiper’s opinions on players as if they were gospel, yet no one ever holds him accountable for his projections afterward. He’ll get paid just as much, or more, next year regardless of how guys turn out. On the other hand, the team executives who do the scouting, evaluating and selecting are putting their reputations and their jobs on the line. Of course they’re going to say they’re happy with their picks but I don’t think they’re any more self-serving than Kiper when they do, and I’m far more likely to trust their evaluations because they know that no amount of hair-gel will save them if they’re wrong.