Childress, Vikings finding fun environment

Brad Childress dressed in drag? Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe let the world see the visual evidence and said he did it for a reason – to exploit the lighter side of Brad Childress' attitude that fans don't usually witness. It's all part of keeping the players and coaching staff loose and developing better chemistry, and it seems to be working.

A 7-1 record makes everything easier during the grind of an NFL season, but Vikings coach Brad Childress said his 2009 team is a group of guys he enjoys.

"It is really a unique group of men. You do this for a while and you remember different teams. It's a good group of guys," Childress said. "They have tremendous chemistry together. They play for each other. They play with each other. And it's a different, it's a varied group of guys, as all you guys (media) know that are in that locker room every day. A joy to come to work with these guys every day."

For the record, Childress said that Monday, a few days after tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, one the team's biggest characters, posted a picture on his Twitter page of Childress dressed up as a flight attendant during the team's trip to Pittsburgh on Oct. 25. Shiancoe said he posted the picture to show a side of Childress that the fans never get to see. Since then, the photo has become a popular post in blogs.

"You've seen Coach on the plane. You see my picture? I looked it up, it had almost 20,000 hits," Shiancoe said. "I just wanted to show how dynamic our coach can be. You guys see him on interviews. That's not him."

Brad Childress dressed as a flight attendant on a Vikings charter.
Visanthe Shiancoe/Twitpic

Shiancoe then proceeded to do a dead-on impersonation of Childress during one of his "flat-line," generally monotone press conferences. Shiancoe had reporters laughing at the impression, but he insisted Childress isn't like that when he's in front of the players and the cameras aren't around.

"Hey, you know, he's a little different. He's really a players' coach, man. He's a really, really good coach," Shiancoe said. "He knows how to relate with players, and that makes a big deal when it comes to guys giving a little extra. And giving a little extra can sometimes be the difference between a win or a loss because the players are out there playing and if you want to go play for somebody, that's a huge difference."

Shiancoe said he got a text message from Childress the day that he posted the picture.

"He was like, 'Oh, so you had to be the one to out the photos, huh?' He was like, 'Just one question: What's up with that?' He laughed about it. It's all fun," Shiancoe said.

Defensive end Brian Robison was asked about Childress' personality in his chat on

"Weird and funny at the same time," Robison replied. "He can be a corny guy at times, but we all have fun with it."

It's debatable whether players would have said that three years ago while Childress was establishing his "culture of accountability," but he seems to have more trust in the players. In turn, the reports of negative incidents with players in the community have dissipated in recent years as well.

Childress has implemented changes – some subtle, others not so much – at Winter Park. Practice schedules have changed on occasion, the offseason conditioning program started later this year, training camps haven't involved as much contact and the setup of the locker room was modified in his first year in an effort to avoid position clicks within the team.

"It's ‘team' and team comprises a lot of different things, just because there are 53 different guys," Childress said. "I think they play off of each other. I think they all contribute in all three phases. They understand what it's like to check your ego at the door when you come in every day, whether they like something or don't like something, schematically. Maybe when you get 53 different guys you got different personalities and you may not like somebody so much, but they all get along very well and then we've got great chemistry when we get out here and work."

Shiancoe was even stronger in his praise of the team's togetherness.

"Brotherhood in here, man. I mean, you know, everybody keeps saying the same thing, but it's the truth. The camaraderie around here is great," he said. "It's like we're excited to come to work. We come in, we talk (crap). We enjoy working hard together. We push each other. That's the thing: We joke around a lot and it's a relaxed environment, but we work hard when it's time to work.

"… The vibe, the work ethic, is just contagious around here. It's spreading like wildfire. We're enjoying the work and we're enjoying the team and the people here. Even the coaches, we enjoy the coaches."

Shiancoe wasn't sure if Childress would repeat his flight attendant act, but he said you never can be sure with him.

"(Childress) keeps us pleasantly on our toes," Shiancoe said, recounting his reaction to the new flight attendant.

"I think I was on my iPod, and I looked up and started glancing. I had to take a double look and I was like, 'Who the hell is this stewardess?' I laughed. He was really serving beverages and accommodating the guests … getting drinks and all that."

Shiancoe even joked that he worried about some of his teammates looking longingly at Childress in drag. You never would have expected that a few years ago.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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