Childress tree lives on, long after he's gone

Brad Childress (Stephen Dunn/Getty)

Brad Childress was shown the door in Minnesota, but many of his assistants here have thrived and/or been promoted.

In the lore of NFL head coaches, the ultimate sign of their effectiveness is "their tree." The Vince Lombardi coaching tree has deep roots and many branches. Bud Grant's tree is impressive and stands tall. But what about the Brad Childress coaching tree?

Before you jump to the conclusion that this is some juvenile, pathetic April Fool's Day prank, dismiss that thought. It's actually an ode to Chilly and the coaching tree that has him as its trunk. When Mike Tice had the pencil unceremoniously yanked from atop his right ear, his entire staff was sent packing. It was over, like ripping off a Band-Aid with quick ferocity. His tree was cut down. The same can't be said for the Chilly Tree.

It could be argued that the tree itself is more acclaimed that the seed that it grew from. Two NFL head coaches coached under Childress. Mike Tomlin was his first defensive coordinator and became the Steelers head coach. Tomlin's replacement, Leslie Frazier, is the current Vikings head coach. That number appears to be heading for three in the next year or two, and was nearly there this year. Darrell Bevell, the offensive coordinator in Seattle, has been a finalist for several head coaching opportunities, including the Chicago Bears this year. All three of those NFL coaches are currently ensconced in their positions and nothing immediate is changing on those fronts.

Those strong branches alone should be enough to allow history to remember the Chilly Tree. But it doesn't stop there. Former Adrian Peterson antagonist Eric Bienemy is the running backs coach for the Chiefs and after a stint at Colorado's coach. Brendan Daly, who went to St. Louis from Minnesota, was brought back to the Vikings as defensive line coach last year after serving as an assistant in that role prior to jumping off the Vikings ship. Chad O'Shea has been the wide receivers coach in New England since 2009.

We have already established enough branches on the Chilly Tree to provide shade, but, perhaps his ultimate legacy with the Vikings will be the number of coaches he hired that were retained after he was fired. Aside from Daly coming back, the Vikings staff include coaches George Stewart (wide receivers), Fred Pagac (linebackers), Joe Woods (defensive backs), Jimmy Johnson (tight ends), Ryan Ficken (assistant wide receivers), Jeff Imamura (defensive assistant), Ryan Silverfield (assistant offensive line), Kevin Stefanski (assistant quarterbacks), Diron Reynolds (assistant defensive line) and Chris White (assistant special teams).

Typically, when a coaching regime is snuffed out and the general leaves his sidearm on the table, all or most of his staff rides off into the sunset with him. The Chilly Tree is alive and thriving and, whether it's April Fool's Day or not, that's no joke – and a tribute to a man who assembled the staff.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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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