To all the Vikings fans out there who think Brad Childress is a nincompoop who only has a job today because he lucked into Brett Favre: You’re not alone.
Evidently, Brett Favre himself agrees with you. And so do most of his Vikings teammates.
This less-than-shocking revelation comes to us via a Yahoo! report that mostly quotes a single unnamed Viking player. This player claims that Childress has almost no respect in the locker room, thanks largely to incidents like the other day when, for reasons known only to Childress himself, he ordered a couple of his assistants to lie about where Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson and Ryan Longwell were when everyone already knew they were in Mississippi talking Favre into coming back.
“Chilly can’t even tell the truth about that,” the snitch said. “I mean, how ridiculous is that? What’s the big deal that he has to lie? Worse, he has to tell other guys to lie for him?”
Childress ended up apologizing for the incident at the beginning of his Wednesday press conference. Unfortunately, that alone will not be enough to repair the deep feelings of Chilly-hatred that are running rampant through the Vikings locker room.
Evidently, not even a blood sacrifice would be enough to bring around the most important Viking of all, Brett Favre.
“Brett thinks Childress has no clue about offense,” the unnamed Viking told Yahoo! He added, “Brett just doesn’t trust him.”
This lack of trust, claims the report, was one large factor keeping Favre on the fence about playing in 2010. This perhaps explains why the Vikings sent three players and not Childress or anyone else from the coaching staff to bring Favre in when the time came.
The report goes on to describe some of the deeper reasons for Childress’ poor reputation among his players. The thumbnail version: Zygi Wilf gives Childress too much freedom, and his alleged equals in the Triangle of Authority, Rob Brzezinski and Rick Spielman, lack the clout to rein him in. So, Chilly runs Winter Park like some bald, cross-dressing dictator who doesn’t want to listen to anyone else’s opinions on anything, and has surrounded himself with a coaching staff of kowtowing stooges.
It is somewhat striking to have an actual source lay this out in such stark terms. However, no one who’s followed the Vikings since Childress became head coach will be surprised to hear that he has issues with many of his players.
Childress has, to put it mildly, often been insensitive in his dealings with the men on his roster. Every fan remembers the infamous Marcus Robinson “skills and abilities” statement, and of course the incident where Childress fined Troy Williamson for being late getting back from his grandmother’s funeral.
Childress has also been slammed for his controlling nature, by offensive guys like Gus Frerotte and Brad Johnson, and by defensive guys like Darren Sharper. And if those guys aren’t credible enough sources for you, consider that even Matt Birk, one of the great Vikings linemen of all-time and surely one of the most respected players ever to don Purple, politely questioned Childress’ competence after he left.
To Chilly’s credit, he does appear to have somewhat softened since his earlier days. He shows a lot more tact in dealing with players now, as evidenced by his tender handling of the Percy Harvin absence, and his apology for the Hutch-Longwell-Allen lie shows that he is at least willing to cop to his mistakes.
And let’s not forget the way Childress seemed to open up the offense as last season progressed, giving Favre more freedom to make plays. Surely that proves he is not as unyielding and stubborn as his reputation would suggest.
Indeed, just the fact that Childress would be willing to bring Favre back for another year shows he is committed to winning even if that means deviating from his master plan. Certainly, Chilly realizes that Favre will cause him headaches during the year. And Favre is also well aware of the friction that is liable to develop between him and the architect of the Kick Ass Offense as things progress. And yet Favre is back.
So, how terrible could the friction really be?
And honestly, do we really think Childress is the first head coach who had lots of players who didn’t like him?
If last season was any indication, it doesn’t matter whether the guys respect Childress. It only matters that they’re ready to do their job.
And anyway, Childress isn’t the real leader of this team: the guy with #4 on his jersey is. If the guys follow him, everything will be okay. And I have a sneaking suspicion that, if the wins come like they did last year, Chilly will be wise enough to put pride aside and just let Favre be Favre.
It worked last year, it can work again this year. And if the Vikings win the Super Bowl? Childress will still get the Gatorade bath. And suddenly all that paranoia and nuttiness, and all the other stuff guys allegedly hate about him, will seem like mere quirkiness.
The Golden Rule of Sports still applies: Winning cures everything.