Tension before fall? Nothing new here

As Vikings fans of the last two decades can attest, seasons filled with turmoil usually lead to dismissals. Brad Childress' topsy-turvy season comes when there were high expectations and numerous distractions and dissenting opinions.

In a season full of drama and a never-ending supply of storylines, the latest chapter of the Vikings serial helped explain why the Vikings didn't officially put Randy Moss on waivers until Tuesday after Brad Childress announced Monday to the team that Moss was no longer with the team.

ESPN's Ed Werder, who is no stranger to the three-star hotels of downtown Hattiesburg, reported Friday that owner Zygi Wilf contemplated rescinding the release of Moss and instead firing Childress. It has been learned through channels that Childress acted unilaterally and that the reaction in the locker room has been split. When asked about his release, Tarvaris Jackson specifically noted the work Moss had done with Percy Harvin in the short time he was with the team.

Judd Zulgad and Chip Scoggins of the Star-Tribune added fuel to the speculation that Childress is on thin ice by reporting that Moss vocally told Wilf to fire Childress following the loss to New England and that Childress and Harvin had a "heated argument" about Harvin's effort at Friday's practice.

With all that has gone on in this weekly cliffhanger, you get the sense that we haven't seen the last of the surprises, blowups, twists and turns to the 2010 season – which has already provided more "What the …?" moments than one would expect in an entire season, much less one that isn't even halfway finished.

The last two times the Vikings had a season with this much turmoil came in 2001 and 2005. In 2001, fueled by the Moss comment that he plays when he wants to play, the Vikings imploded after a much-publicized series of sideline blowups when the Vikings played at Chicago. Coming off an NFC Championship Game appearance with essentially the same cast in place, the 2001 Vikings fell to 0-2 with the loss to the Bears and fractured from within – finishing 5-11 with Dennis Green bailing before the final game of the season when his firing went from rumor to eventuality in a matter of days.

Four years later, it was Mike Tice, the man deemed by Red McCombs to be able to "handle" Moss in his first run with the team. Tice went down with the Love Boat ship. Seen as a team run amok and Tice viewed as the dean of boys at Delta House, when the 2005 season concluded, one of the first official franchise-changing acts of the Wilf Administration was to inform Tice after a season-ending win over the Bears that he was no longer the head coach. In what was viewed as a somewhat callous administrative move, the team essentially pulled the pencil from Tice's ear, claiming team property rights mere minutes after what would turn out to be his final press conference as the Vikings head coach. The media was diverted from the typical path from interview room to locker room so as not to witness the execution. Tice walked into the killing zone not even knowing it was coming. The firing was punctuated by a release to be distributed immediately following the game, a document Tice maintains his son read before he believes the guillotine came down.

In both instances, the coaches involved in the last two firings had benchmark moments that could be pointed to in hindsight as to when it was viewed by ownership that the coach "lost the team." Childress claims he doesn't know what that phrase means. If the Vikings lose to the Cardinals on Sunday and the media gathering is blocked from their usual entrance back into the locker room, he may have a better grasp on the meaning of that phrase.

Green could be found "on the high road" when he saw the writing on the wall and said, "Seacrest out!" with one game remaining in the 2001 season. The Big Galoot walked unexpectedly like a steer into the slaughterhouse. In both instances, the pot of fan-base reaction was at full bubble. They wanted Green gone. He was. They didn't think Tice had enough control over the team and he was taken out Jersey-style. Will Childress follow the historical trend?

If he does, it would be the final irony. Childress was brought into the Vikings family in the rippled wake of the Love Boat scandal to clean house of the bad apples and malcontents and build a team that could not only be successful, but be men of character that the fan base could embrace in victory and defeat. To be a Viking meant you had to do it Chilly's way. The Twin Cities were going to be Minneapolis and St. Paul, not Sodom and Gomorrah. He clearly saw Moss as a detriment to what he wanted to accomplish. Just as clearly, Wilf didn't like the fact that he could be on the hook for $4 million if Tennessee hadn't put a claim in on the waiver wire and that the decision to excise Moss came without his initial approval.

Childress was picked as the head coach of the Vikings for a reason – discipline. The Vikings would ferret out players who didn't fit "the system." Childress saw visions of Terrell Owens. He didn't fit "the system." If he is fired, it will be – at least in part – for the same reason he was hired. Go figure.

SATURDAY NOTES
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  • Perhaps it's a sign that the Vikings are hoping Sidney Rice can make some sort of contribution Sunday, but they are still sitting at 52 players on the active roster – one less than the league limit. Coincidence?
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  • The final injury report was released and two Vikings were listed as questionable – Percy Harvin (ankle) and Frank Walker (hamstring).
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  • The Cardinals have officially listed as running back Beanie Wells as questionable, although, according to reports out of Arizona, the Cards are optimistic that he will play. Since missing the first two games of the season, Wells has been by far the primary running option over Tim Hightower, despite averaging two yards less per carry.
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  • Linebacker Clark Haggans is also listed as questionable for the Cardinals.
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  • Two Patriots players were fined for hits on Brett Favre Sunday. Myron Pryor, who delivered the hit on Favre that opened a gash in his chin, was fined $7,500, as was teammate Gary Guyton for hitting Favre in the head. The difference in there fines was nonexistent. The difference in their infractions was. Guyton was penalized for his hit to the head on Favre, which may be a sign to players than any penalty-drawing hit on a QB is going to come at a price. However, by just about any definition, Pryor's hit was cleaner. He hit Favre while he was releasing the ball and made contact in his chest. His momentum and Favre's backward movement caused his helmet to hit Favre's chin. Even dyed-in-the-wool Vikings fans didn't dispute a dirty hit. The NFL fine cops may need to consider tapping the brakes a couple of times before handing out fines like Pryor's. It knocked Favre out of the game, but nobody on the Vikings sideline ever claimed a dirty hit or cheap shot. As many Vikings have said since the league tightened its hit policy, "it's football." Such collisions happen and shouldn't warrant a $7,500 hit.
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    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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