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Brad Childress Can't Help the Minnesota Vikings Anymore

Jabber HeadSenior Analyst IOctober 26, 2010

Brad Childress is a nice guy, from my few meetings with him. He's always treated me cordially, as he does every fan. The few times I've met him have been at training camp or at a team promotion of some kind or another. He has a remarkable and dry sense of humor, which occasionally comes out in his television, radio or newspaper interviews. He's actually quite funny when he wants to be.

Since taking over as Head Coach of the Vikings in 2006, he has made significant, and incredibly positive, changes in the personnel on the team. Where the Vikes once had Jermain Wiggins, they now have Visante Shiancoe. Where they had Marcus Robinson and Troy Williamson, they now have Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin. He even dispatched team members to retrieve Brett Favre from the edge of retirement for one more go-round. He has the ability to evaluate talent and make good decisions on hiring and firing.

Brad Childress is also, reportedly, a knowledgeable football coach, with years of offensive background developing strategy and creating playbooks, including plays with keen names like "X Shadow V Right Slant" or words to that effect.

He has managed successfully to coordinate the offense of the Philadelphia Eagles to their second Super Bowl appearance, and to propel the Vikings to the brink of an appearance in the championship game last year. And he has improved his win-loss record every year while in Minnesota until now. (It's impossible for an improvement this year, as the Vikings have already matched their loss total from 2009.)

So why he is he so disrespected, even hated, by Vikings fans? Why do they want him fired?

It's because he's a boor. Rude, impatient and self-consumed. At least that was the first impression.

I really think it all goes back to when he first arrived. He was quiet, aloof and arrogant. He was going to show us that he understood football far better than any lay-person ever could.

He was no Mike Tice or Dennis Green. He was a disciple of the West Coast Offense and had learned at the feet of Andy Reid (who coincidentally was on the same staff as Dennis Green. But I digress).

I attended his first training camp. He pissed me off the first day, and I've been trying to forgive him ever since. Let me set the scene:

In Mankato, MN, the Vikings train at the local university. There are three football fields laid out next to each other. The university sets up bleachers so that fans can view all of the fields from a single vantage point. That said, the furthest field is approximately 125-150 yards from the stands. One can imagine that trying to pick out individual player numbers from that far away can be a challenge even with binoculars.

The closest field is merely feet from the stands. Not only can you see the players, you can hear them ... as well as the coaches. And this is where the problem apparently came in. You see, Childress was so bent upon secrecy (a local scribe refers to him as "Secret Squirrel") that he couldn't imagine people, the same average Joe he assumed didn't know football anyway, being close enough to hear his precious strategies.

So for that first year NO practice was allowed on the near field. The fans were not allowed to shout out encouragement for their favorite players. (After all, I'd be surprised if even Philadelphia fans boo at training camp.) There was no interaction between the team and the relatively few souls who had wandered down to Mankato to see them.

After intervention from the owner, he changed with the ensuing camps, and at least a part of every training camp session is now performed on the near field. But the personality was exposed and part of the damage done.

Then came the Marcus Robinson incident. Robinson was a good receiver who was a little past his prime by the time he joined the Norsemen. Toward the end of the season, he had had enough of the manipulative and plodding game-plans, and told the coach so. So he was let go...on Christmas Eve. "Merry Christmas, kids. Dad just got cut!"

Perhaps the finest example of Childress' personal form of insanity, though, came after another predictable loss early in his career in Minnesota. In defending his offensive gameplan to the media, he stated, "When run right, this is a real kick-ass offense. I've seen it."

The name stuck. Every time a Vikings fan sees Brett Favre forced to roll out to the right on a bad ankle, we think kick-ass offense, or KAO. It did work for a few weeks last year. Maybe it will work again someday. But the confines and constraints of it are so exacting that it took one of the greatest QBs of all time (albeit well past his prime) to make it work.

That cannot be a formula for success. Brett Favres don't grow on trees or become available in free agency too often. When he's gone the KAO will be back to its slow, plodding, boring sameness. Run left, run middle, throw short of the first down marker and hope for YAC.

And that's why Brad Childress will never be accepted by the fans. He just doesn't get that we'll tolerate bad football if there's a chance it might get better. We sat through Brad Johnson's growing pains until he got some kid named Moss to throw to (in addition to Cris Carter). We watched Terry Allen plow through holes for two- and three-yard gains until Robert Smith came along. We can and will be patient if there's a possibility of a reward.

What we won't take, though, is boring football. We know enough about the game to understand that Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and Randy Moss are a little above average. To see them constantly confined to 5-yard slant passes is galling. To watch Adrian Peterson have to plunge into the maelstrom at the middle of the O-line is ridiculous and wasteful.

Look, I can't predict the future too well (check out my prognostications on Sports Jabber Radio every Wednesday at 10:00pm Eastern if you need proof), but I can tell you this. If he loses the team this year—and it's on the precipice—there will be a lot of great players he worked hard to land who will leave via free agency rather than put up with an autocrat who creates losing game plans. Rice, Moss, and Chad Greenway (LB),  among other stars, are free agents.

So, in answer to the question of would I rather have the players or another year of the KAO, I will quote numerous friends of mine: Fire. Childress. Now. He's had his time. Let us have our football team back.

I'm Mark, a Vikings fan, and I approve this message.

Mark is producer/host of SJ Radio & an SJ contributing author

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