Desperate coaches like Childress don't last
Brett Favre has a new coach who seems to really, really like him. He's also got a couple of games in front of him that even the hapless Minnesota Vikings can win.
Beat Washington and Buffalo and, who knows, Favre might even get the itch to do this one more year. Beat a few other teams down the stretch, and Leslie Frazier might pull a Brad Childress and pick him up at the airport.
Won't happen, of course. Even dressed up a bit at the end, a lost season is still a lost season.
But can't Minnesota fans dream?
Their biggest dream already came true Monday, just in time to enjoy Thanksgiving without getting heartburn at the thought of Childress still prowling the sidelines. He's gone, and for that Vikings fans feel they have a lot to be grateful for.
Favre is surely grateful, too. He sent along his regards to Childress, calling him a good man and wishing him well in his future endeavors. Might have even sent him a text message or two since he seems to be handy with his cell phone.
Maybe one day they'll get together for a barbecue on the farm in Mississippi and laugh about the pass that got away and cost them a shot at the Super Bowl. Childress certainly knows the way there from the times he went down to get on bended knee and beg Favre to play quarterback for him.
Coaches come and coaches go. It's the nature of the business, and Childress knew the ground rules when he agreed to the job.
For a few weeks, though, it looked as though Favre might be run out of town before his coach. But the ol' gunslinger stood his ground through both a string of forgettable performances and an NFL investigation into his cellular activities, and was rewarded Monday with the words he always loves to hear.
''Brett is a tremendous quarterback, leader of our football team,'' Frazier said. ''Brett Favre will be our starting quarterback on Sunday.''
As if the new coach had a choice. The Vikings may be going down, but owner Zygi Wilf isn't as eager to cut ties with his aging quarterback as he was with the coach he gave a contract extension to after last year's big run.
Good thing, because that means Wilf won't be in front of a microphone anytime soon. His performance Monday answering a few questions while studying his talking points was as miserable as Favre's performance the day before against Green Bay.
But Wilf doesn't get paid to be a public speaker. Favre does get paid - and paid very well - to win games behind center in the NFL and so far this year his rate of return is unimpressive at best.
Childress staked his coaching career on a 40-something quarterback being able to play 10 years younger, and for one magical season everything clicked. Ten games into a second season in which nothing clicked, though, he was given his golden parachute and shown the door.
Childress didn't throw the 17 interceptions Favre is responsible for this year, but he was the coach of a team that has the NFL's worst giveaway-takeaway ratio. Opponents have turned Favre's turnovers into 71 points, essentially giving everyone the Vikings played a bonus touchdown before the game even began.
Childress should have benched Favre and, indeed, he said he thought about it. But he was so intertwined with his quarterback that benching Favre would have been admitting failure on his part, too.
From the beginning, it was a mismatch of needy team and even needier player. That it worked for one season before an interception thrown by Favre cost the Vikings a chance to be in the Super Bowl was remarkable, but asking for two miracle seasons was asking too much.
Childress was a coach who wanted to control everything his quarterback did. Favre is a quarterback who doesn't want anybody questioning how he gets the job done.
But Childress was desperate for a quarterback, and Favre was his man. When they became even more desperate for a receiver, Randy Moss became that man.
Making moves out of desperation doesn't usually bode well for job security. It didn't help that Childress alienated fans, players and his own owner with some of his moves.
Childress bet the farm on Favre, and lost. He's gone, and no one in Minnesota will hold a goodbye party for him.
Meanwhile, Favre plays on, seemingly unaware that the party is over for him, too.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org