Ex-Vikings coach Childress: Job left 'in better shape' than when he started

ST. PAUL For the first time in 32 years, Brad Childress spent last weekend watching football during the season instead of coaching it. Childress, fired by the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 22, caught his old team's 17-13 win over Washington, another ...

He's out
Then-Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress addresses the media during a news conference at the team's NFL football training facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., Wednesday, Nov 3, 2010. Childress was hired as offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns on Jan. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Andy King)


For the first time in 32 years, Brad Childress spent last weekend watching football during the season instead of coaching it.

Childress, fired by the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 22, caught his old team's 17-13 win over Washington, another reminder of how tumultuous this year has been. Childress' former defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier, is now manning the Vikings' headset as interim coach.

"What a difference 365 days can make," Childress told the Pioneer Press by phone today from his beach home in Bonita Springs, Fla. "You pull yourself into your work the best way you can each and every week, and you never expect something like this to happen. You go into every week thinking you'll win."

Just a year ago, Childress was coaching a Vikings team that finished 12-4 and was one botched play away from a Super Bowl berth.


But a 3-7 start to 2010 along with a barrage of team distractions led to Childress' demise. Childress compiled a 39-35 record in less than five seasons with the Vikings, including two consecutive NFC North Division titles.

But Vikings fans never embraced Childress, and, according to several reports, neither did his players.

"I don't know if it's shocking," said Childress of the firing. "All you have to do is look around the league to know this happens. I didn't do everything perfectly, but I felt I coached my way. I left that job in a lot better shape than we were in (in 2006)."

The reports of anonymous players ripping Childress' coaching and temperament -- ESPN and the Chicago Sun-Times were primary outlets -- surfaced after Childress surprisingly waived Randy Moss in early November, 26 days after trading for him.

Childress contends he had many supporters in the locker room, citing the players who reached out to him after his firing.

Childress said he's heard from Steve Hutchinson, Brett Favre, Jared Allen, Chad Greenway, Hank Baskett, Greg Lewis, Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin among others since the firing. Harvin and Childress had a heated confrontation in a practice before the Arizona Cardinals game on Nov. 7, but Childress said their relationship issues were "overblown."

"If you pull a couple of quotes from a locker room, it all gets exacerbated a bit," Childress said. "By and large, I know the support I had. It's a good group of guys in that locker room."

Regarding Moss, Childress heard late in the process that Moss was lobbying to owner Zygi Wilf for Childress to be fired, but he was already set on waiving him. Childress did not consult with upper management about the move.


Not every Viking was against parting with Moss.

"Some players came up to me afterward and said, 'Coach, we would have been disappointed if you didn't do something,' " Childress said.

Even after the ugly 31-3 loss to Green Bay on Nov. 21 that cemented Childress' fate, Childress said, he still thought he might have the chance to coach his way back to a respectable record.

"It was never a week-to-week expectation with the Wilfs," Childress said. "They never told me win or else. It was just us trying to get back into what was a close game (against Green Bay) until the turnovers, and it all unfolded that day. I just said, '(Expletive).' We were just all more disappointed in what we put out there."

Now a December will mean a chance to focus more on family for Childress, who is awaiting the Dec. 22 return of son Andrew, a Marine, from serving in Afghanistan. After the holidays, Childress will ponder his next move. He wants to coach again and isn't ruling out NFL or college possibilities.

The Vikings are obligated to pay Childress about $5 million until after the 2012 season, but the amount can be reduced if Childress gets another job before then.

Childress declined comment on his contract or whether the Vikings have worked out a sufficient buyout with him.

"I didn't all of a sudden forget what I knew," said Childress about coaching. "I don't think you can slam the door on anything."


Childress is proud of Frazier's ascension in the coaching world and predicts he's destined for great things as a head coach -- possibly as the Vikings' leader beyond 2010.

"He's as good as any," Childress said.

Whoever coaches the Vikings' next season, Childress believes that coach should still have authority over the 53-man roster like he did. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman primarily handles the draft and oversees personnel matters.

"It goes back to what Bud Grant told me, the head coach needs to be in control of the 53 guys who play for him," Childress said.

After five years in Minnesota, Childress experienced firsthand the venom of Vikings fans. Fire Childress signs were prevalent years ago, not just in 2010.

Childress still remembers fans showering him with boos in 2008 during a 12-10 home win over the Lions, which became the Vikings' second win in a row.

"You must say that they are passionate," Childress said. "It's interesting what they latch onto sometimes."

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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