In his press conference yesterday, Brad Childress attempted to downplay the dust-up between him and Brett Favre, chalking it up to the usual stuff that goes on between players and coaches, and rejecting the notion that their much-publicized sideline confrontation was in fact “heated.”
Unfortunately for Chilly, the truth of things appears slightly different than the version he would have us believe.
The truth of things, according to Sean Jensen (via PFT), is that Chilly was more than a little miffed by what went on with Favre during and especially after Sunday night’s debacle. He was, in fact, incensed.
So angry was Childress over Favre’s actions that, reportedly, he took the quarterback aside after the game and unleashed an expletive-laden tirade in his face.
The specific action of Favre’s that got Chilly so riled was, we assume, his questionable decision to go public with the contents of his and Childress’s sideline discussion. Chilly is a notoriously secretive sort, and certainly did not appreciate Favre airing their differences in front of the media.
Now that the world knows what went on between Chilly and Favre, the question everyone’s asking is, who really runs the Vikings offense?
The answer to that would seem obvious. It’s Chilly’s offense, but Brett Favre runs it the way he wants. And when Chilly doesn’t like the decisions Brett makes…sucks for Chilly.
As we’ve learned through various reports from ESPN and other outlets, the explosion was building for some time. On at least two previous occasions this season, Childress was inclined to bench Favre over his refusal to run plays the way they were drawn up, but was talked out of it either by Favre himself or offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
On one previous occasion, Childress wanted to yank Favre for general poor performance. That game, the November 15th match-up vs. Detroit, ended with Favre throwing for 344 yards while leading the team to a 27-10 victory.
On Sunday, Chilly allegedly wanted to bench Favre to protect him from further punishment on a night when left tackle Bryant McKinnie was being eaten alive by Julius Peppers. But, in his press conference, Favre seemed to wonder aloud whether saving him for the playoffs was really Childress’s motivation.
In light of those previous attempts at sitting him for poor performance and/or calling audibles, we can understand now why Favre might rankle at any talk of benching. To a man as proud as Favre, the suggestion that Tarvaris Jackson might succeed where he has failed must seem a horrific insult.
Clearly, Chilly is not as concerned about preserving Favre’s positive state-of-mind as he is about asserting his own authority over the offense he devised and invited Brett Favre to run.
And there you have the makings of a power struggle. One that has evidently been going on most of the season out of the public eye, but is now very much on display for all to see.
The question now is, who has the advantage? Childress the stubborn coach or Favre the prickly quarterback?
Childress presumably has the backing of the owner, and the security of having recently signed a contract extension. Favre, however, has the fans on his side…fans who perceive him as having elevated Childress’s vanilla offense to a level no one else could’ve achieved (certainly not Childress’s hand-picked stooge Tarvaris Jackson).
Favre also has another big factor on his side: media savvy. Brett knows how to play reporters, as he demonstrated by the slick way he leaked the details of his and Childress’s dispute. Childress, as his often disjointed statements prove, is still largely clueless as regards the art of spin.
The consensus already is that Chilly can’t win this one. If the Vikings go on to triumph in the Super Bowl, people will say it was all Favre. And if they fail, they will say it was because Childress didn’t let Favre do his job.
There’s little sympathy out there for Chilly and his plight. Most comments are of the “He made his bed, now he has to lie in it” variety. Indeed, Childress must’ve known before he invited Favre aboard that Brett would demand a level of deference above that commanded by most players.
He must’ve realized that, if the experiment was going to work, he needed to loosen up and let Favre do his thing. Otherwise, why sign Favre at all?
Now it seems that, pretty quickly, Chilly began experiencing buyers’ remorse. Unfortunately, Favre’s great success running the offense guaranteed that Chilly would have to learn to live with him.
It doesn’t seem that Chilly has learned that lesson very well. In fact, it seems his patience with Favre has worn down to nothing. And now there’s the added pressure that comes with intense media scrutiny. Everyone will be watching to see what happens next, will read significance into every gesture, every word.
Everyone, in short, will be waiting for Chilly to explode. Or for Favre to melt down.
And the fact will remain that, without Brett Favre, the Vikings would not be sitting at 11-3 right now, and Childress would probably not have gotten his fat contract extension.
Whether Chilly wants to admit it or not, he owes Brett Favre big time. The move for him now would be to just roll with it, knowing Favre will be gone after the year no matter what happens. Unfortunately, control-freak Chilly isn’t very good at rolling with it.
So, look for more tension, especially if the Vikings keep struggling on offense. And look for Favre to keep feeding the media beast their little tasty press conference biscuits.
I don’t see either man giving in any time soon.