When the Minnesota Vikings decided to replace coach Mike Tice in 2006, they couldn’t have found a more different leader in the man Brad Childress, at least personality-wise. Tice had been a player’s player, an ex-lineman who liked to yell and encourage and celebrate. This had resulted in some exciting years of play, but also some unprofessional moments, not least the party cruise incident involving ample booze and prostitutes. When the Vikings brought in Childress, president Zygi Wilf described him as a morally solid: “class, character, discipline, family man.” So responsible and consistent was Childress that he earned the nickname “Chilly.”
With the Vikings languishing with a 3-7 record this year, it’s easy to forget the accomplishments of Chilly. After his inaugural season, the Vikings added two wins to every season, culminating in a season that was one drive away from the Superbowl. Just a year ago there was talk of Childress for coach of the year. Holes finally appeared this year, in the front line, the cornerbacks and the broken-down Brett Favre. But behind these glaring problems lay a deeper, more institutional malaise, the fact that Childress could not hold the Vikings family together any more. An arrogantFavre insisted on controlling the team on the field, and owner Zygi Wilf was calling too many shots during the week. Childress couldn’t placate every side, and, when it really mattered, couldn’t play commander of the team.
When it comes down to it, Childress wasn’t the problem this year. The Vikings having too many men on the field was the real culprit. A losing record finally led to the powers-that-be throwing the flag; and guess who gets targeted as the 12th man?