Brad Childress, Brett Favre (Morry Gash/AP)
While Brad Childress continued to field media questions about impropriety in conversations he had with Brett Favre, Childress maintained his innocence, said the league knows where he stands and got an endorsement of his innocence from Favre himself.
Brad Childress has been under the cloud of suspicion since reports out of Green Bay linked calls between Brett Favre and the Vikings head coach that prompted the Packers to file tampering charges against the Vikings. While the office of Commissioner Roger Goodell has been investigating the allegations for the last week, Childress has remained essentially silent on subject – saying that the question of tampering is a league issue.
On Sunday, while Childress oversaw an abbreviated training camp session, he got confirmation of his side of the story from an unlikely source – Favre himself. In an interview with ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Favre said that he has talked to Childress, but it had nothing to do with him coming back to play for the Vikings. He has had a longstanding relationship with Childress that began long before Childress was the head coach of the Packers' division rival.
While with the University of Wisconsin program, Childress was able to connect with NFL coaches, including making visits to the Packers – where he met Favre for the first time. At the time, current Eagles head coach Andy Reid was an assistant coach with the Packers. He and Childress had coached together at Northern Arizona and, when both were in Wisconsin – Childress with the Badgers and Reid with the Packers – he got a chance to see how the pro game worked and got an inside look at how the Packers organization operated. Childress said the same wasn’t true with coaching legend Joe Gibbs. He said Gibbs was very closed about how his Redskins team operated, while then-Packers coach Mike Holmgren was much more open in allowing an aspiring NFL coach behind the curtain to see how NFL coaching is done.
“It was good of Mike to allow us, the offensive staff (at the University of Wisconsin) to come up there,” Childress said. “And then to be able to sneak into a couple of meetings and hear how the cow ate the cabbage.”
And, in the process, Favre got a chance to meet Favre and forge a professional relationship that lasts to this day. When asked by league investigators about the nature of the discussions he had with Childress, Favre didn’t hold back. He believes he had no need to hold back.
“I have never denied talking to Childress,” Favre told ESPN. “I’ve known him for about 12 years back to when he and Jay Norvel were assistants at Wisconsin and they used to come in and sit in our quarterback meetings. And then Brad went to Philadelphia to be with Andy Reid and you know Andy and I are big buddies, so the relations continued.”
Favre continued to say that talking to coaches for other teams wasn’t unusual for him. He built a lot of relationships over the years and nothing has changed. He backed that up by telling Mortensen that Childress is far from alone if someone is searching for a coaching version of a smoking gun.
“I told the commissioner, I’ve spoken to Childress,” Favre said. “I’ve spoken to Darrell Bevell. I’ve spoken to Andy Reid. Matt Millen, Steve Mariucci. I’ve spoken to a lot of guys who are my friends and guys who have coached me – either talked to them or left messages.”
With the investigation still ongoing, Childress declined to respond to either the charges or Favre’s defense of him after Sunday’s practice.
“Until I see it, until I hear it, I won’t react to it,” Childress said. “Like I said before, it’s really in the hands of the league and I’ve talked to those people and they know where I stand on that.”
Childress said the NFL is a league of relationships that are formed during one’s career. That can explain why so many coaches hire assistants they are familiar with, why players from different teams remain in contact and why friendships can form across what are now enemy lines. Childress said conversations with Favre were no different than conversations he has had with former Eagles players. Friendships are built and don’t necessarily know team bounds.
“In my mind, it’s no different from talking to Donovan McNabb as he’s going to training camp or talking to Brian Westbrook when he’s on the taping tables,” Childress said. “You communicate with people in this league. You don’t leave past relationships.”
Favre also said that reports of calls and/or text messages between him and the Vikings on a Packers-owned cell phone are “bogus," adding that he has never owned a phone that was bought, provided or maintained by the Packers.
In what has turned into an NFL version of The Neverending Story, Childress continues to be under the spotlight of suspicion and is maintaining his silence. But, when asked if he’s ready to have this month-long saga finally come to an end, Childress said he isn’t alone in hoping this dispute will be resolved and life can return to normal for everyone involved.
“I think probably everybody is – the Packers, the league, us,” Childress said. “But I don’t set time-frame work. I’ve got to take care of what’s here. That’s the only time-frame work I set.”