Wednesday is typically the heaviest media day in the NFL, and this Wednesday's lineup of interview subjects brought along some of the most entertaining and humorous lines of the season.
Maybe it was being refreshed after the bye week, but whatever the reason, Vikings coach Brad Childress started the afternoon with a few good quips.
When asked if he did anything in particular the week leading up to the Detroit game to cut down on penalties, Childress said, "Yeah, everybody who had multiple penalties we put in a vise, a head vise, and squeezed it one turn for every penalty."
Of course, he expanded on that with football talk, but it was an indication that Childress could be loosening his style ever so slightly with the media. Good start. It got the audience, a group of about a half dozen print reporters and a number of television camera operators, warmed up.
Childress' best line came when a reporter asked about the priority the Vikings placed on acquiring kicker Ryan Longwell on the first day of free agency. The Vikings are ranked second-from-last in the league in scoring touchdowns in the red zone, and Childress used that negative to insert humor into his response on the Longwell inquiry.
"I promised (Longwell) that I'd put him in the Pro Bowl because we wouldn't be very good in the red zone and we'd kick lots of field goals," Childress said.
Childress later followed by saying that Steve Hutchinson, a lineman that has earned a reputation as a nasty-good Pro Bowler, is "not a Dale Carnegie-type guy."
He probably won't ever apply for "Last Comic Standing," but for a normally reserved coach, several of Childress' lines seemed to be as far out of his serious exterior as he has come this year.
Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck followed with a teleconference more than an hour after Childress, and that was riddled with one-liners and quick wit.
A couple of questions into his conference, Hasselbeck was asked if there was any anger directed at Hutchinson for using the "poison pill" contract to get out of Seattle. Hutchinson declined to address the subject this week. Eventually, Hasselbeck got to the serious answer, but he started out his witty quip.
"Yeah, I hate him. We all hate him," Hasselbeck said with a laugh. "He's kind of one of those guys that is impossible to hate. He's just a good guy. A blue-collar guy, came in as a rookie and started for us and played well. We all respect him as a player. We know that he wanted to be back here. For three years he complained and whined – because he is an offensive lineman and that's what offensive linemen do – saying how he wishes he could sign a deal, yada, yada. To me, I'll say what I said back then. I feel like sometimes when you get agents involved, things get screwed up. If it could have been just Steve and just someone from our team talking it out, I think they could have come to an agreement that everyone would be happy with. Sometimes you get super-agents and negotiating that goes on and then you end up in a situation that is not really what anybody bargained for.
"Is it the end of the world? No. Hutch made out like a bandit and got a nice contract and he's on a team with, I'm sure they've got good guys on their team too."
Hasselbeck then reminded Minnesota reporters that punter Chris Kluwe – who was released as a rookie free agent at the end of Seahawks' 2005 training camp and subsequently had a solid year in Minnesota – is returning to Seattle, too. Yeah, we know, but the fodder created by Hutchinson's controversial contract makes for much better copy … unless Hasselbeck could provide a line about Kluwe, too, which he did.
A reporter joked that Kluwe is pretty upset about the way his days ended in Seattle. "He should be, he should be. He had a good camp. I don't hate him. He wasn't a first-rounder. I don't like first-rounders," said Hasselbeck.
It wasn't exactly Comedy Central, but the Childress and Hasselbeck lines helped make Wednesday one of the more entertaining days at Winter Park since, well, the Irreverent Tice Comedy Tour.
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