Brad Childress (Kevin Brown/Viking Update)
ESPN is known for staging heated debates over sports topic, but former Denver Bronco and current TV analyst Mark Schlereth was adamant that Brad Childress lost all credibility in the locker room with the Brett Favre signing.
The reaction of Vikings fans to the signing of Brett Favre Tuesday was clear, pronounced and obvious. In a scene reminiscent of the Michael Jackson funeral procession, Brad Childress’ SUV was followed from the airport to Winter Park, where hundreds of fans lined the street to catch a glimpse of Favre as though he was a head of state. All four local television stations that have newscasts ran the Favre interview without commercial interruption – pre-empting the national news. That’s a pretty big deal.
But not everyone was ecstatic about the signing, especially Mark Schlereth, the former Bronco and current ESPN analyst. While cohort Cris Carter was waffling back and forth – in one segment saying “they’re a better football team now than they were three hours ago” and a couple hours later questioning Childress’ credibility and wondering if players will play injured for him – Schlereth beat the same drum all afternoon. It was a drum that resembled Childress’ head and “Stink” was relentless.
Schlereth admitted Favre deserves a chance to continue playing, which should be expected from a guy who had 27 surgeries during his NFL career and kept coming back for more. But his assault on the character of Childress was surprising. Harkening back to the start of training camp when Childress made the infamous “we’ve closed the book on that” comment about a future pursuit of Favre, Schlereth used those words to rake Chilly over the coals.
“Brad Childress said, ‘I’ve closed the book on Brett Favre,’” Schlereth said prior to the Favre press conference. “Apparently, that book that he closed was the book on ethics. He’s going to do whatever it takes to sign Brett Favre. The problem you have here is a credibility issue. Do you think anyone in that locker room believes anything that comes out of Brad Childress’ mouth from this point forward?”
Given ESPN’s penchant for having “good cop, bad cop” segments, it initially could have been perceived as Schlereth being controversial simply for the sake of controversy. But he dispelled that notion shortly thereafter, recalling a story of how Denver coach Mike Shanahan lost all credibility with his team after running down Kansas City cornerback Dale Carter as a thug with no character, then making him the highest paid player on the Broncos when he hit the free agent market. He said Childress has put himself in the same position.
“Brad Childress, in my mind, has lost every ounce of credibility he ever had within that locker room,” Schlereth said. “You think Tarvaris Jackson, you think Sage Rosenfels, you think a lot of the guys in that locker room trust anything that comes out of Brad Childress’ mouth? I guarantee you they don’t.”
Schlereth finished his rant by saying he doesn’t believe the Vikings will make the playoffs. While Vikings fans cheer the prospect of having Favre on the team, at least one TV analyst is putting the blame for what he thinks is going to be a disappointing season directly at Childress’ feet.
The growing sentiment since the signing is that Jackson might be the odd man out at quarterback. There are already rumors that the Vikings are shopping Jackson to see if they can find a taker willing to give up a draft pick.
Former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski said Tuesday that with the addition of Favre, the Vikings are now the favorite to win the NFC championship.
There apparently is little to no incentive or bonus money in Favre’s contract. It essentially is a two-year deal, with $12 million due this year and $13 million if he plays in 2010.
To make room for Favre on the roster, the Vikings released rookie linebacker Robert Francois.
The Vikings sold 2,500 season tickets and 8,000 single-game tickets by 10 p.m. Tuesday as a result of the Favre signing announcement. It can only be imagined that jersey revenue will be next. Within minutes of the signing going official, the team’s website had a huge photo of Favre on the home page, with a link to season tickets and how to buy Favre jerseys.
Commerce is clearly in play with the Farve signing. Almost immediately after the signing, several Favre-related items went up for sale, including a Photoshopped 8-by-10 photo of Favre, earrings, eight different types of jerseys and, perhaps the least thought-out item – a signature Brett Favre shot glass. Favre went through a rehab program several years ago because of an alcohol and painkiller addiction.
Troy Williamson is a frontrunner to win a starting job with the Jacksonville Jaguars, alongside veteran Torry Holt.