Childress Shows Preparation, Wit

New Vikings head coach Brad Childress surprised the media, his new bosses and his new players with how much knowledge of the organization he already had. Mixing information with dry humor, Childress made a favorable first impression. We recount some of his best encyclopedic references and humor.

Brad Childress may not end up being the quote machine that former head coach Mike Tice was, but he sure started out on the right note in Minnesota.

Childress came to Vikings with recommendations from his players and his head coach in Philadelphia, but it's when Childress spoke that he became most impressive. He showed a dry sense of humor and an uncanny preparedness for his new digs.

First, the information he spewed.

He started by making a good impression on his potential new owner during the interview process. Somewhere between getting the initial call from Zygi and Mark Wilf on Monday afternoon and before getting hired, Childress made a phone call to Dr. James Andrews, the surgeon who performed the knee operation on quarterback Daunte Culpepper.

"Through the process, I was surprised to find out the information he had about our team," Zygi Wilf said. "He knew how Daunte was and he was talking to his players. He's the best, I think."

Of course, Childress didn't surprise anyone by returning the compliment to his new bosses and trying to demonstrate how committed they are.

"These are good people," Childress said of the Wilfs. "They're excited to get into this and they want to win badly, and I believe they'll give me the resources to win."

Later, during his introductory speech, he pleased the Vikings alumni by mentioning some of them in attendance, franchise greats like defensive end Carl Eller and head coach Bud Grant, both Hall of Famers.

Next, Childress was pulled aside to visit with print reporters in the locker room. During introductions, he put a smile on columnist Charley Walters' face when, after Walters introduced himself, Childress said, "Yeah, the former baseball player." When asked how knew that, Childress simply said he does his research.

No one doubted him there.

Then, walking out of the locker room, Chidress was introduced to running back Mewelde Moore. He didn't promise a starting job or anything like that to Moore, but it was obvious Childress knew all about Moore. Without prompting, he immediately starting talking to Moore about meeting him at the Combine and how impressed he was with the variety of tasks Moore performed at Tulane. Moore, a sharp cat himself, didn't seem to remember specifically meeting Chidress at the Combine – and who could blame him, as players meet hundreds of coaches and front office people in a few-day span at the Combine – but the coach had his new player pegged before ever meeting him or watching him practice as a pro.

As sharp as Childress seemed in his football memory, he was also quick with the dry wit. Throughout the 90 minutes of talks, he dropped a number of humorous asides.

It began with his reference to the full-court press the Wilfs put on him, starting with a phone call he received from them Monday afternoon.

Childress's recollection of his first conversation with the Wilfs went like this. "They said, ‘This is the Wilfs, Mark and Zygi. We would like to get to know you.' I said, ‘I would like to get to know you, too. I have a couple things I have to take care of. I just had a last player leave my office. How about Wednesday?' Then they said, ‘We were thinking more like dinner tonight.' I said, ‘Dinner tonight? What do you want to know? How I hold my fork or if I knock the water over?'"

In his introductory speech, Childress talked about Grant the coach and Grant the outdoorsman: "I was honored to have had the opportunity to visit with Coach Grant during that interview process. He was able to paint a picture for me of the environment of the Twin Cities. That environment has kept him here for 36 years. Here he raised six children, 18 grandchildren, 156 wins and God knows how many birds, fish and deer (a reference to Grant's deep-seeded love of fishing and hunting). Coach, I will be doing pretty well if I can put up numbers like that."

When asked about building Philadelphia into a winner under less-than-ideal conditions when the Andy Reid coaching staff arrived there seven years ago, he said: "We went to Philadelphia and followed a 3-13 club that was in shambles. Our offices were housed in the basement of Veterans Stadium, where some of the rats were bigger than the cats that lived there. We ran an NFL franchise out of that environment. I witnessed and was part of creating a winning atmosphere and a can-do attitude throughout players, coach and staff. In the 1999 draft, called the year of the quarterback, we worked out four quarterbacks and selected Donovan McNabb. Daunte Culpepper, by the way, was a very, very close second in our view at the time. I've helped develop a franchise quarterback and that development started from the draft, riding down from the draft with the playbook in the back of a limousine, getting him ready for the minicamp at the end of the week. I understand of the process of building a new practice facility and a state-of-the art stadium. I've seen what new facilities mean to the players and to the fans, and I am excited to help the Wilfs get that new Vikings stadium built in the Twin Cities."

His rats-and-cats reference brought some humor to the subject, his Culpepper-McNabb comparisons brought honesty and information, and his stadium reference had to please the Wilfs.

Finally, the line of the hour was back in that small locker room setting, when he was asked if it was awkward for him that the Wilfs wanted him to remain in the Twin Cities while they flew to Indianapolis to interview Colts assistant Jim Caldwell. Childress's response: "It was really only awkward when they put the house arrest bracelet on me."

And for those who revel in the lore of the real Vikings and want a preview of a potential locker room speech, there was this: "As former Cleveland Browns coach Sam Rutigliano told me in 1986 regarding a job interview and how we would go in and get the job done, he said ‘We will be like Vikings. We're going to go ashore, burn the boats and never look back.' We are never looking back. Today we go ashore."

Ultimately, Brad Childress will have to impress the franchise and its fans with wins on the field, but his first day as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings was a good start.

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