As Childress Now Knows, Favre Rules
At that point, Favre was in charge. He still is.
And Childress, who last summer practically begged the 39-year-old Favre to eschew retirement (again) and save his hide in Minnesota, became the water boy.
That's what Childress remains -- subservient. We saw this again on Wednesday, when both Childress and Favre talked to the Twin Cities media about what has become the most combustible relationship in sports since Tiger stepped out on Elin.
Three times during games this season, including last Sunday's nationally televised spat about playing time in the midst of a costly 26-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Childress and Favre have clashed about who's the boss.
ESPN and the Star-Tribune have reported that Childress tried to bench Favre twice before attempting to do so again Sunday. The coach wanted to remove Favre during a 27-10 victory at Detroit on Nov. 15, and Childress also tried to sit Favre during a Nov. 1 game at Lambeau Field when the quarterback disregarded the running play that was ordered from the sideline.
In each case, it's clear the quarterback won the battle, because he believes he knows more about football than anyone in the Vikings' organization, including the head coach.
And Favre's right. He probably does. If Childress knew so much before Favre's arrival on a white horse, then why wasn't Chilly properly instructing Tarvaris Jackson on how to complete a pass, or to quit running on third down and just hand off to Adrian Peterson?
While both Childress and Favre tried Wednesday to downplay what has been reported as a simmering feud regarding the coach's dislike of audibles, and the quarterback's desire to be a gunslinger and change calls at the line of scrimmage, nobody bought a word of it.
"I think it's all resolved, first of all," Favre said. "He and I have talked, as we have all year."
The confusion about hierarchy -- long suspected all season -- became apparent last Sunday when Childress tried to assert himself by attempting to bench Favre during the third quarter of that miserable loss to Carolina. Sure, Favre was getting pummeled by the Panthers' pass rush. But Minnesota was leading 7-6 at that point, Favre argued -- in full view of television cameras.
He and Childress engaged in a heated discussion about what should have been a pure coaching decision. The Vikings were playing terribly, for the second time in three weeks after exploding to a 10-1 start.
Childress insisted he was only mindful of Favre's well-being by suggesting he take a seat.
Favre thought otherwise. He admitted after the game if he had been benched, everyone would have assumed it was because of poor performance. "We had seven points," Favre said last Sunday. "So I think everyone in the building was like, 'They're not moving the ball, they're not getting points.' Brad wanted to go in a different direction and I wanted to stay in the game."
We saw how that worked out. Favre went back on the field and finished out the night with this line: 17 of 27 passing for 224 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. The team-wide belly flop compromised the ability of Minnesota (11-3) to seriously challenge the New Orleans Saints (13-1) for the top seed in the NFC
But hey, Favre knows all.
Wait. Check that. While addressing this contentious power-play affair on Wednesday, Favre did concede that, yes, sometimes he listens to and respects the opinion of Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
"I have a lot more discussions with Darrell when it comes to game plans and offense," Favre said of his communication with the Vikings coaching staff. "The fact that we've lost two of the last three, the frustrations are going to show."
So does Bevell have more authority in Winter Park and Eden Prairie than Childress? Maybe so. Bevell, after all, was Favre's quarterbacks coach for three seasons in Green Bay. Who do you think called the shots in that relationship?
Bevell also was the reconnaissance guy the Vikings sent to Mississippi in early July before camp opened to see if Favre could still throw a spiral. So Bevell became part of the welcoming committee. Did Favre tip Bevell and Childress when he exited the coach-driven Cadillac Escalade last August and signed his two-year, $25 million contract? Do they carry his luggage and clean Favre's cleats, too?
This sort of thing apparently was commonplace in Green Bay, where Favre was Numero Uno and remained largely unchallenged.
"Everybody in Minnesota knows that Brett Favre is running that organization," former Packers safety and Favre teammate LeRoy Butler told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "When the head coach leaves and goes and picks him up in his SUV and brings him to the facility, everyone knows who's running the Minnesota Vikings."
What's worse, Butler said -- Vikings players know that Childress has no control over Favre.
"If I'm Percy Harvin and I have a question about a route or a play, I'm going right to Brett Favre," Butler said. "If I'm Adrian Peterson and I'm not getting the carries I want, I don't go to Childress or Bevell. I go to Brett Favre. He's running the team."
Childress on Wednesday acknowledged that players often get defensive when a coaching staff tries to pull them from a ballgame. But he insisted that Favre has been a model teammate and player this season. And yes, Childress said, a player with 19 years of NFL experience may have a little more latitude to freelance than, say, a Tarvaris Jackson.
"That happens with everybody. That happens with somebody who checks a defense the wrong way ... there are times when he's gone a different way and it's worked," Childress said of Favre. "It's going to happen with a guy who is a 19-year pro. He's been extremely true to this system and he's done a great job of administering this system."
Then again, Childress admitted, "He will always have the trump card. Because the quarterback always has the trump card."
Yes, he will. Favre knows this. And Childress has no choice now but to accept it.