The Childress Era in the history of the 50-year history of the Minnesota Vikings came to an abrupt, if not anticipated, ending Monday, as he was fired a day after the worst home blowout of his head coaching career in a 31-3 dismantling by the Green Bay Packers.
The comments made Monday by owner Zygi Wilf and statements from Vikings players were along the lines of wishing Brad Childress the best and, in some cases, players taking responsibility for their own actions.
In a robotically-delivered prepared statement, Wilf said he has a deep respect for Childress as a coach and a person and helped the Vikings "turn the corner" to again becoming a force in the NFL. When it came to answers, Wilf was non-committal to anything other than the fact (repeatedly) that the Vikings will play the Washington Redskins.
So was there one incident that tipped against Childress? Not according to Wilf.
"There wasn't one component that factored into this decision," Wilf said off-script. "(It's) just that we felt the best decision for the organization moving forward. We have high expectations for this team and wanted to capitalize on what is left for this season."
What is left is an astronomically thin mathematical chance of making the 2010 playoffs. The demise of Childress was something that he may or may not have brought on himself. His relationship with Brett Favre was well-publicized and fractious. Favre was likely one of the reasons for the divorce between the team and Childress and said he and the players shoulder their share of the blame for Monday's firing.
Brad Childress is a good a guy – a man with strong faith and a great family," Favre said in a statement that praised Frazier's professional credibility and talked only of Childress off the field. "I wish him the best in the future. I think we all, starting with me, could have done more to make this a successful season."
The problems started before training camp began. With Favre having ankle surgery in May, the automatic assumption was that he was coming back to the Vikings – the post-surgery timetable mirroring that of his 2009 biceps tendon surgery. As the head coach, Childress had to go through the illusion of a 2010 Vikings team without Favre, even though Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels both admitted that they expected Favre back. There was no QB competition because both knew they weren't going to win the job.
Sidney Rice's delayed surgery was also a major contributor. Rice was Favre's big-play security blanket in 2009. Rice delayed surgery until it was too late in many respects for him to be an impact player. The resulting domino effect was to promote Bernard Berrian to No. 1 receiver status, and he hasn't lived up to that billing. It took Percy Harvin out of the slot, where he was the most comfortable, and forced the Vikings to trade a veteran defensive back in Benny Sapp to get a slot receiver (Greg Camarillo) to replace Harvin. Not just one receiver position got weakened. All three did, as well as the secondary.
The Brett Favre sexting scandal didn't help a bit. After a publicity run by a gossip website, the story broke wide open the day Favre arrived with the Vikings and the NFL political correctness cops began to investigate a potential sexual harassment suit. Favre began to talk around questions from the media and, given the circumstances of himself as a family man and his wife keeping her obligations connected to a series of high-profile interviews to promote a new book she co-authored, Favre's home life would have appeared to have been strained at best. That didn't help.
Randy Moss was clearly a flashpoint in the ongoing problems. A move of opportunity and desperation, the Vikings gave the Patriots a third-round draft pick to play chess with on draft weekend 2011 to get a rent-a-player who knew he was a rent-a-player and just as clearly knew that Childress wasn't going to be his kind of head coach. He told Wilf as such three weeks after joining the team and Childress unilaterally released Moss.
Once that happened, it became the type of situation that followed the Lake Minnetonka boat scandal – Childress was hired to put an end those negative-publicity events. Speculation became reality. Who's in charge of this team? How can a player like Moss get cut and the owner not know about it? Is it a power play?
In many ways, Childress didn't help his cause. He was overly relatable to the fan base and the media, the people who give fans a look and listen inside the locker room where players talk about their livelihood. Childress was rigid in his public personality. He wasn't completely understood because he wouldn't put himself out publicly. Those who played for him and covered his teams saw the sense of humor Childress can have when he let down his guard and that he can be a coach that can relate to his players when he isn't worried about power.
One such player is linebacker Chad Greenway, who was the first first-round draft pick of the Childress Administration. According to a statement released by the team, Greenway appeared to take the news hard that the coach who believed in him was shown the door.
"I'm saddened and humbled by the firing of Coach Childress," Greenway said. "He gave me an opportunity to play for this organization and was responsible for bringing me into the NFL. He shouldn't have to take the fall for our performance on the field, but now we have to move on."
Whether the Vikings improve in the final six weeks of the season or not is something that will be the postscript to the Childress era with the Vikings, but one thing would appear to be certain – the drama that surrounded the 2010 season claimed at least a few victims, from Sage Rosenfels to Randy Moss to, in the end, the head man himself.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Drama got Childress hired and fired
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