Brad Childress (Jim Rogash/Getty)
Brad Childress doesn’t admit to many regrets, but he admitted he made a mistake in the way he handled the release of Randy Moss. The Vikings’ former head coach reflected on the Moss and Brett Favre decisions in an interview with NFL.com.
Brad Childress isn’t living with many regrets about the decisions and moves he made during his four-season, 10-game stretch of coaching the Minnesota Vikings, but the way he handled one decision still sticks with him.
Childress was clearly getting desperate to rekindle the magic of 2009 when his passing offense was struggling last year. With a 1-2 record, he traded to bring Randy Moss back to the Vikings. Publicly, Moss said all the right things: The Vikings, who drafted him in 1998, were still a part of his heart and the return to Minnesota felt like a homecoming.
Privately, Moss said all the right things to Childress, as well, when the Vikings were making the move.
"He called me and said, 'I can't wait, I can't wait. I feel like I'm coming home again,'" Childress told NFL.com in an interview Wednesday.
But the Moss attitude that got him run out of town after his first seven NFL seasons in Minnesota quickly returned. After an initial ingratiating press conference that had many wondering if he had changed, Moss returned to the surly figure that marked his final seasons in Minnesota the first time around. He refused to talk to the media after games, a violation of NFL rules, and he once again became a giant distraction for the organization after he lashed out at a caterer in the locker room, saying he wouldn’t feed that food to his dog.
After four games, 13 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns and his signature loafing on the field, Childress had enough and released the talent-filled and immensely polarizing player. The Vikings made a mistake in bringing Moss back, but Childress compounded the stress when he made the decision to release Moss without consulting anyone else in the front office or owner Zygi Wilf. His biggest regret?
"I should have gone up the chain," Childress admits.
Three weeks later, with a 3-7 record, Wilf made the decision to fire Childress.
"We had good guys, by and large, [but Moss] walked in the locker room and vomited on it,” Childress said.
Childress doesn’t feel the same way about quarterback Brett Favre, another aging veteran that the former head coach pursued during the 2009 offseason. Once again, Childress was able to acquire the talent he stalked, and this time the marriage worked … for one season, anyway.
Favre helped spark the Vikings’ passing game and turned receiver Sidney Rice into a star. The Vikings went 12-4 and advanced to the NFC Championship game. In the final minutes of that game, they were driving into field goal position when Favre tried to do too much, throwing across his body for a signature ill-fated interception. The New Orleans Saints took the opening possession of overtime and kicked the game-winning field goal on their way to that franchise’s first Super Bowl.
But most of Favre’s first year was marked by success. In fact, it was the most successful season in the future Hall of Famer’s career. He threw 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
"[Favre] had his best season ever his first year [in Minnesota]," Childress said. "Could you do more with Brett Favre? Absolutely you could."
This year, Favre remains in Mississippi, with his agent and others saying he is retired, despite intermittent rumors of his return to one team or another. The Vikings have made it clear that they aren’t interested in his return to purple, and that was before acquiring Donovan McNabb in a trade or drafting Christian Ponder in the first round.
But Childress isn’t ruling out a potential return to the NFL for Favre.
“I believe he’s finished playing, but we’re just starting to play these games. Somebody gets nicked, somebody may have a need and somebody may be a salesman enough to talk him off the ranch,” Childress said.
“My bet is we’ve seen the last of him, but you never know. Somebody’s got a need and he’s got an itch to scratch.”
Childress itched his Favre scratch and it paid off for one season. He also took a chance on Moss and it failed miserably, creating his biggest regret and helping slick the skids for his firing in Minnesota.
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.
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