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Does Brad Childress Have An Exit Strategy?

November 6, 2010

Vikings head coach Brad Childress’ own actions appear to be leading to his ignominious end in Minnesota.

According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf was on the verge of firing Brad Childress this week. According to the report, wide receiver Randy Moss did not appear on waivers for 24-hours after Childress informed his players of the release because Wilf “considered retaining Moss and firing Childress.”

Wilf was in Eden Prairie this week to talk to his coaches and players, but ultimately made the decision to stand behind Childress rather than give Moss a second (or third) chance.

Just as things began to cool down at the Vikings’ practice facilities this week, Judd Zulgad and Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Childress and reciever Percy Harvin got into “a heated exchange” during Friday’s practice that was sparked by Childress questioning Harvin’s effort. Harvin did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, but returned on a limited basis Friday after suffering a sprained ankle in last Sunday’s loss against the Patriots. Harvin was walking with a noticeable limp for most of the week, an injury that may not allow him to play this Sunday.

By all accounts, it would appear that Childress is beginning to crack under the pressure. In one form or another, he has angered every key member of the Vikings organization — Favre, Peterson, Harvin, and most importantly, Zygi Wilf.

Wilf now finds himself in a predicament. On the one hand, he extended Childress’ contract for another four years prior to the season. The $16 million extension gave Childress financial security for the foreseeable future, but also provided him with 16 million reasons not to resign as head coach of the team. However, if Wilf can force Childress to quit, he would save millions. Yet, Childress and Wilf both know there is no reason for Childress to quit; walking away from $16 million simply makes no sense.

Wilf wants a new stadium and with Childress’ growing unpopularity, it’s becoming more and more unlikely that any stadium will materialize under a Childress-led team. So what should Wilf do?

Maybe he doesn’t have to do anything. If Childress doesn’t win this Sunday (and beyond), the relationship between Chilly, his players, and the Vikings’ fan base could become so frigid that Childress would gladly accept a contract buyout for less than the $16 million owed to him. And with Childress feeling the heat of management scrutinizing his every move, he may just slip up badly enough to allow Wilf to negate his contract. Getting into a heated exchange with your star reciever may be the writing on the wall that suggests the fuse has been lit and your time is ticking away.

And with the Minnesota fans chanting “Fire Childress!” at the Timberwolves basketball game on Friday night, Childress’ reception on Sunday at the Metrodome may border on hostility. Of course a win would help his situation, but without winning almost every remaining game on the schedule, Childress may find himself unemployed sooner rather than later.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2010 10:00 am

    As an outsider looking in, something has to be done with the Vikings, and soon. Childress has clearly lost the team, and the incidents with Moss and Harvin may be the signs of a man who has reached a pressure point that cannot be resolved.

    For the good of the franchise, Wilf should dismiss Childress if they lose this week, and may have to accept the fact that this may be a lost season for them. A win may change everything, but there is still half a season to play still. If the friction exists this much at the midway point, what will it be like in another month, with a few more losses in the standings?

    • November 6, 2010 10:56 am

      I think you’re right, John. If the Vikings lose this week, Chilly may be watching the rest of the season like you and me — from the couch.

  2. November 6, 2010 11:43 am

    I’m not one to think that they should fire Chilly in mid-season. When was the last time that turned the season around for anybody? But so long as they upgrade to Frazier I’d support the move.

    That said: that teams needs to buck the fuck up and take it like the men they are. Harvin getting pissy because his new best buddy has left isn’t going to make this any better. This is a job, you go out and you do that job.

    If Chilly gets fired because of sulky players who turn on him because Moss has an authority problem, that is a great injustice to him. He did good things for this team even if he’s not a genius.

    • November 6, 2010 11:59 am

      I agree that pulling the plug on a coach midseason rarely works out, but if anybody could turn this team around, it might just be Frazier.

      • November 7, 2010 11:13 am

        Nah, you’re right. Frazier seems like a good option. Here’s my question: why has he interviewed SIX times and not been hired? There’s gotta be something goin’ on there.

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