Brad Childress said he wouldn’t get into particulars on his decision to release Randy Moss, but he spent his entire 14-minute press conference trying to dance around the details.
“I'm not going to get into a lot of the particulars. I'm not going to do that. It's done. It's over with,” Childress said. “It was a decision that you don't take lightly, but it was a decision that I had to make and it's over.”
Moss is longer on the Vikings. That part is over. But the fallout from the move is far from over. Especially when Childress didn’t answer the whys and wherefores of his decision to place Moss on waivers. Especially when it was a future Hall of Famer. Especially when the move to release Moss came less than a month after the Vikings gave up a third-round draft pick to acquire him. Especially when Vikings fans had taken a shine to Moss’ abilities on the field once again.
Pressed that the fans wanted to know what didn’t work out with Moss, Childress was vague with the on-field reasons and evasive with the off-the-field reasons that certainly contributed to the decision as well.
“I wished and hoped that it would have worked out as well. But it was a programmatic non-fit, and it didn't work out. When things don't work out, you need to move quickly to take steps,” Childress said.
He moved quickly indeed, allowing Moss just four games with the Vikings before dumping him. Childress also spent much of the press conference answering questions about the timeline of events – why he fielded a dozen questions about Moss on Monday and let on like the receiver was still in the team’s plans when he had already made the decision to waive him.
“That was the plan was for him to come back Tuesday night or Wednesday. Actually, it was going to be Tuesday night. We talked about that, how he was traveling, how he was getting back,” Childress said.
But when asked if he made the decision in the minutes between his press conference Monday and team meeting shortly after that, when he informed the players of the impending move, Childress relented.
“No, I can’t say that’s when I decided. The wheels were in motion in my brain for what had to happen,” he said.
The timing of it all left a few select players who were left in the locker room to try to answer for the waiving of Moss. Were they surprised? Why was Moss released? And in an environment where Childress made the decision and didn’t have to face the media for 48 hours, that wasn’t sitting well with the media or the fan base.
“I have to answer for my decisions. In the long run with ownership, obviously, my name is affixed to wins and losses in this program here,” Childress said. “So, it's not an attempt to deceive, it's just a matter of letting the people know that need to know.”
One of the big questions in the decision is whether Childress let the front office and ownership know before he told the players. It’s hard to know which statement to believe.
This one: “I talked to the team, then you let everybody else know what's going on. Actually, Rick (Spielman, vice president of player personnel) was in a meeting.”
Or this follow-up, asking if he told the players before ownership: “No, that's not the case. I'm not going to get into all the process stuff.”
Quarterback Brett Favre was even-keeled about the move, saying he wasn’t part of the decision and Childress didn’t have a reason for the decision.
“He didn’t give any. Not that he should. As players, I know fans as well don’t always agree with decisions. As players, we’re no different,” Favre said. “Right or wrong, coach, an organization has to make decisions. As a player on the field, I have to make decisions. Maybe it’s the wrong read. But you do it as we all assume for the best interests of the team. I think that was done here. Surely, Brad, with his players, this organization, wouldn’t make a decision that was not in the best interests of the team.”
Childress said releasing Moss was “probably the most unemotional” decision he’s made since taking the Vikings job in 2006. But he said it was a move that “had to happen.”
Why, exactly? The reasons are probably many, but Childress wasn’t sharing them.
He appeared to be the most irritated with a question inquiring if he’s lost his team and said he didn’t know what that meant, saying the players were in the locker room.
One of those players, Favre, was asked a similar question minutes later.
“I can’t speak for every guy in the locker room. I’m not going to,” Favre said. “But I think ultimately, regardless of scheme, philosophy, the bottom line is you’re playing for yourself first. If you don’t play well, you may be out of the league before too long. Secondly, you’re playing for your team. That order, depending on who you ask, may change. But if you want to stick around for a while and get a good contract or become a great player or consistently be a great player, regardless of coach, you have to do what it takes. Secondly, that helps the team. So, does everyone agree with Brad on decisions? No. I would be the first to say that.”
For his part, Childress admitted that trading a third-round draft pick for Moss was a poor decision.
“I've got to stand up and I have to make it right,” he said. “When it's not right, you need to make it right.”
Not that many fans care, but Childress said he is doing fine while dealing with a 2-5 team with a fan base calling for his job.
“I’m fine. I’m really at peace,” he said. “The decisions I make are for the best welfare of the Minnesota Vikings. I can look myself in the mirror every night when I go to bed and know that in my heart of hearts.”
As for him being on the hot seat: “I'd say that's up to everybody else to look at. I know that basically it's usually tied to how many wins you have and how many losses you have.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.