Childress signed his contract extension, one that will reportedly pay him between $4 million and $5 million per season, on Thursday. On Friday, Childress was crediting the Wilf ownership group, his coaching staff, and players for helping make it happen.
"I talked to the coaches yesterday and the players today that I understand they're where the rubber meets the road," he said. "I've got a tremendous staff and support group and a great group of guys that are fun to come to work with every day. I don't have any allusions about players win games. You set the course and then assistant coaches do, by and large, a lot of teaching. From our training staff on down, I'm grateful to those guys."
Childress said he received texts from former players in Minnesota like fullback Tony Richardson, former players in Philadelphia like quarterback Donovan McNabb and even players he has never coached in the NFL, like Larry Fitzgerald Jr.
The extension gives Childress security in Minnesota for years to come (his contract was set to expire after the 2010 season), but he hasn't found a lot of time to enjoy it. At least not yet.
"The fun in this business is winning and you enjoy it for about the 45 seconds that you walk across the field, shake the guy's hand and start to the locker room and then you have to talk to you guys (media), have to talk to the team, have to talk about the upcoming schedule its and on and on and on. There is never a time to really sit back and let it wash over you," said Childress, who went home Thursday night, talked to his wife Dru-Ann and fell asleep watching David Letterman.
Childress said he was pleased that the contract extension didn't become a distraction. A report last month said an extension was close, and the next serious indications of an extension didn't come until just hours before he signed it.
"My preference would have been to do it in the offseason or (if in-season) on a Monday, because it's always about the team," Childress said. "To have it all come forward on a Friday wasn't my perfect scenario. That's just how I'm wired."
The journey to the extension wasn't always easy. Childress endured a lot of criticism in his first year in Minnesota when he made sweeping changes. Mike Tice's complete staff of assistant coaches was not retained and the training staff was even changed out. Childress said it was important to have complete trust in his staff and realizes the changes he made wouldn't be easy for those involved.
"(I) knew that there would be change and knew that there would be a lot of people that would be uncomfortable with it. … Change is hard, hard on you folks (media), hard on an organization, hard on players. Change usually happens for a reason – that you want to go a different direction. Obviously the Wilfs did."
Three years later, he has become more personable with the media and the players seem to understand what is expected of them. He formed a players committee to give him feedback on certain issues. That committee hasn't met in a while because, he said, there haven't been a lot of issues that required a meeting.
Despite the success he sees now, he admitted that there were times he might have wondered if his approach was working.
"You can wonder from time to time when it doesn't manifest itself in terms of buy-in and wins, but as I've told every guy on this team and any guy that's ever come through here, whether they were on the team or they've been added – and it doesn't make any difference if it's a street free agent or a Jared Allen or an Antoine Winfield – they all get an opportunity to sit in my office and I just kind of outline a few things. What I believe, what the Wilfs believe, and I just thought it was important to do it my way. I could look myself in the mirror if they showed me the door," Childress said. "It's the way that I wanted to do it and it's the way that they bought into doing it. I didn't feel like those things should get compromised – good people that are good football players."
"That what we've got right now, players that are all in."
"I saw a lot of progress from Wednesday to Thursday," Childress said Friday about Winfield. "Different approach Thursday from what I saw here on Wednesday. He's going to make a push to Sunday. I'm not 1,000 percent sure he's going to make it there, but I know that he is still going to work."