Brett Favre Vs. Brad Childress: Inside the NFL's Ugliest Coach-QB Feud
Brett Favre and Brad Childress have issues. If we didn't know that before Sunday's press conference calamity made it pretty obvious that they sure as hell do now.
It's not every day that a head coach throws a future Hall of Fame quarterback under the bus—and in style too.
Of course, now you have to wonder just how much Favre regrets letting that trio of purple diplomats talk him back into a uniform for what is quickly becoming a lost season.
But Favre's issues with Childress and the Vikings extend further than August. Let's take a look at how the two parties have grown so far apart during their time together.
Favre Signs With Vikings In August 2009
Favre's 2008 campaign with the New York Jets ended with four losses in their final five games, and the Jets out of the playoffs after being well in the hunt most of the year. In late December of that year, an MRI revealed a torn biceps in Favre's right arm.
When the offseason rolled around, Favre retired again. This time, he insisted, for good.
But he was poked and prodded by interested teams anyway, and it slowly became apparent that NFL fans hadn't seen the last of #4 quite yet.
On July 28th of 2009, Favre told the Vikings brass that he was not going to come back.
He signed with the Vikings on August 18th.
Favre immediately supplanted Tarvaris Jackson as the Vikings' starting quarterback, and Childress stated that giving the news to Jackson was a "hard conversation." He would later insist that nobody's position is ever set in stone, and every player has to earn his keep.
Welcome to the team, Brett.
Favre Gets Off To a Hot Start, All Is Good
It's unlikely that anybody thought Brett Favre's 2009 season was going to go as well as it did.
After getting off to a modest start with his new team, throwing for under 200 yards in the Vikings' first two games, Favre exploded. His 300-yard gem against San Francisco in Minnesota's third game was vintage Favre, and it set a precedent for the rest of the year.
Favre would have only one more game of less than 200 yards passing the rest of the season. He finished the year with 33 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions.
But for all his success, things started to unravel late in the season.
Favre Annoys Childress By Changing Play Against Detroit
In a November game against the Detroit Lions, the rift between Favre's experience and Childress' philosophy boiled over.
Apparently, Childress doesn't like his quarterbacks to call too many audibles, even if the guy calling them is named Brett Favre. When Favre changed a play against Detroit, Childress was not very appreciative, and he let Favre know about it.
In a clear reference to Childress' stubbornness, Favre would later say, "We all think we know it all at some point." He then added, "I know that's not the case."
The two would later insist they were all hunky dory, but would butt heads again just a few weeks later.
Favre Refuses To Come Out Against Panthers
A late December game against the Carolina Panthers got away from Favre and the Vikings in the fourth quarter, and Brad Childress made up his mind to pull Favre before he could absorb any more hits from Julius Peppers.
The result was a pretty heated discussion, in which Favre basically told his head coach to go soak his head.
“Brad wanted to go in a different direction. And I wanted to stay in the game,” Favre said. “It’s not 70-6, but we were up 7-6. I said I’m staying in the game. I’m playing.”
Favre stayed in the game. The Vikes went on to lose the game 26-7 after being outscored 20-0 in the fourth quarter.
Favre and The Vikings Ushered From The Playoffs By The Saints
The Vikings finished their 2009 season with a 12-4 record and enjoyed a first-round bye in the playoffs. They easily dispatched the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round as Favre finished with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Against the Saints, the Vikings turned the ball over five times. Favre threw two interceptions, the second in Saints territory during a late fourth quarter drive that could have given the Vikings the lead and the win.
Favre also got beat to a pulp that game. Photos of his badly bruised leg and ankle have since become legend.
Favre retired shortly thereafter. With that, the circus started all over again.
Favre Makes an Inglorious Return To Minnesota
The "will he or won't he," questions about Brett Favre's third un-retirement refused to go away during the 2010 summer. And just when all hope seemed lost, three Vikings players took matters into their own hands.
Steve Hutchinson, Jared Allen, and Ryan Longwell all skipped out on Vikings camp in early August and flew down to Favre's home in Mississippi to coax Brett into returning.
While they were successfully negotiating with Favre, Childress was denying the whole thing. He had coaches insist the three players were, in fact, still in camp, when in reality they were going back and forth on private jets.
Indeed, the vibes around Favre's third return were bad from the start. And Childress' tactics rubbed at least one Vikings player the wrong way.
“Chilly can’t even tell the truth about that,” an unnamed Viking said. “I mean, how ridiculous is that? What’s the big deal that he has to lie? Worse, he has to tell other guys to lie for him?”
The mood did not improve after Favre's return.
Favre Returns, and Brings His Disdain For Childress With Him
The events surrounding Favre's return to the Vikings, particularly Childress' attempts to cover it up, were a pretty clear indication that there was already something of a power struggle in the Minnesota camp.
It was widely regarded, yet modestly reported, that Favre and much of the Vikings offense thought Childress was basically an offensive dimwit.
Speaking anonymously, one Viking player put it thusly: “Brett thinks Childress has no clue about offense."
As the rumor of a riff between Favre and Childress began to spread, many in the press suggested Favre's hesitance to come back was due more to Childress than his physical problems.
“Brett just doesn’t trust him,” said yet another unnamed player, which is a pretty good way of putting it.
Favre and The Jenn Sterger Scandal
Favre's 2010 season got off to a poor start, and has yet to see a turnaround of any kind.
And then, early in October, a story hit the airwaves that Favre had exchanged "lewd" texts, pictures, and voice mails with former Jets employee Jenn Sterger while he was with the team in 2008.
Imaginations naturally ran wild at the notion, and it didn't take long for the word to come down that Favre could be subject to a suspension under the NFL's personal conduct policies.
Of course, Favre's extracurricular activities became the hot story of the 2010 NFL season. Favre's celebrity has evolved from major sports personality to tabloid fodder.
He probably liked it the way it was, and one would imagine the Vikings did too.
Favre is still working his way towards completely owning up to the allegations, and it's probably going to be a while before the axe falls on him. He has gone from not discussing the story when it first broke, to tearfully apologizing to his teammates for being a distraction, to discussing it behind closed doors with league officials, to publicly admitting that he sent voice mails.
He has said nothing about the pictures and text messages. Meanwhile, the Vikings are a mess.
Favre Bungles Game at Green Bay
Sunday night's game against the Green Bay Packers ended up being one Favre's toughest. He threw three interceptions, one of which was a pick-six that gave the Packers a 28-17 lead midway through the third quarter.
He also had what would have been a game-winning touchdown pass to Percy Harvin overturned by replay.
In addition, Favre hurt his surgically-repaired ankle when he was knocked to the ground after his first interception.
But after the game, Brad Childress didn't let Favre's injury keep him from telling it like it was.
Childress Publicly Rips Favre After Green Bay Game
Immediately following the Green Bay game, Childress delivered one of the most damning testimonies a coach has ever given about his starting quarterback.
When asked how much Favre's ankle affected his performance, Childress made no apologies whatsoever.
"He has what it takes," said Childress. "He needs to play in our system. That's the biggest thing. You can't throw it to them... You can't give seven points going the other way, not in a game like this."
Childress was particularly miffed that Favre missed a wide open Harvin on one play—perhaps the quintessential it's-not-me-it's-him moment in their brief history.
He was also asked if he considered pulling Favre from the game. Childress acknowledged that he did.
"I was going to give him that next series [after Favre's third pick]," said Childress, before saying he refrained because Favre engineered a scoring drive.
When Favre himself was asked if Childress ever indicated that he was going to pull him, Favre maintained that it was not an issue.
"We didn't talk about it," Favre said. "I don't think I gave any illusion that I was hurt though, other than limping on every play."
Favre Hints That He Might Have To End His Consecutive Starts Streak
It was revealed on Monday that Favre has a stress fracture in his ankle that could very well bring an end to his streak of 315 consecutive games played.
After the Green Bay game, Favre himself dropped a huge hint that he was already considering ending the streak himself, even before examinations revealed how bad his ankle injury was.
When asked if the ankle was going to keep him out of the Vikings' next game against the Patriots, Favre was pretty pessimistic.
"Who knows?" he said. "Really, who knows? I hope I do.... The reality is, if I can play but not be effective, then it's not worth playing. I hope I use good judgment. We'll see. I'm no spring chicken anymore. I don't heal as quickly."
In other words, it's bad. It is, after all, hard to conjure that Favre would have ever even considered not playing in a game before this latest episode.
And that about does it for now. But definitely stay tuned. For good or ill, the Brett Favre saga never ends.