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Updated: March 20th, 2013 11:11am
Why did Vikings trade Percy Harvin? 'It's complicated,' coach says

Why did Vikings trade Percy Harvin? 'It's complicated,' coach says

by Tom Pelissero
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PHOENIX -- Leslie Frazier still doesn't want to talk specifics about what led to the Minnesota Vikings' recent divorce from their top receiver.

But Frazier did get the last word on Percy Harvin's departure, which he said was "bittersweet" once he got news last week the trade with the Seattle Seahawks was complete.

"I respect Percy a lot as a player and as a person," Frazier said on Monday at the annual NFC coaches breakfast here at the league meetings.

"Wish things would have worked out in Minnesota. But I'm happy for him, happy that he gets a chance to continue his career, and hopefully, good things will happen for him."

Harvin, 24, was a midseason MVP candidate before suffering an ankle injury on Nov. 4 at Seattle that eventually ended his season.

He screamed at Frazier on the sideline during that game out of frustration about the Vikings' offensive struggles, and the two had another heated confrontation later at the team's facility.

After being placed on injured reserve on Dec. 5, Harvin returned to Florida for rehabilitation and didn't rejoin the team during its ensuing four-game win streak, which gave them a 10-6 record and a wild-card playoff berth.

"I thought we handled a lot of things the right way, right to the very end," Frazier said. "For our team to rally the way they did at the end of the season when Percy was on IR, that tells you it didn't become a distraction for our team, because it could have easily -- as valuable as he was to our team -- our guys could have easily said, 'Man, we don't have a chance.'

"Here's arguably the most valuable player in the league, not participating. He's on injured reserve. They didn't (say that). They stayed focused on (the Dec. 9 game against) Chicago, and we needed that win. That was a big game for us. They got in tune with what we had to do. So, I think for the most part we managed the situation the right way, evidenced by the way our team stayed focused on the task at hand."

Harvin also made a brief trade demand during the team's June minicamp and reportedly threatened to walk out late in training camp over frustration about his contract.

One of Frazier's strongest personality traits is his ability to diffuse situations. Harvin is volatile and has a history of insubordination dating to his days at the University of Florida.

In the back of his mind, did Frazier know a divorce was inevitable?

"Well, I was always hoping that things would work out," Frazier said. "(Harvin)'s a good player. He did a lot of good things for our team, as you know. But at the end of the day, it didn't work out -- and in a way it did work out. He's in a good place. I think things will work out for us just fine."

Frazier downplayed the impact of any deterioration in the relationship between Harvin and quarterback Christian Ponder, saying, "I don't know if it played a major role. Those guys respected each other, from my impression. It didn't play the role that most would think. ...

"It never countered anything we were trying to do team-wise. What we tried to do game plan-wise on offense or how we tried to approach opponents, the relationship between our quarterback and Percy never interfered with what we were trying to do to win a ballgame."

Then why didn't it work out? Frazier smiled and shook his head.

"There are a lot of layers to this situation," Frazier said. "And one day, when Dan (Wiederer from the Star Tribune) and Tom and I and Bob (Hagan, the Vikings' media relations director) will sit down and write this book, we'll divulge all the layers. But it's complicated."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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