Favre and childress feud brewing over?
By Michael Silver,
So let me get this straight: A coach who is feuding with a legendary quarterback and is dangerously close to losing his locker room just got dealt a star wideout who plays when he wants to play, sulks when he doesn’t get the football and once ran roughshod over the coach’s predecessor?
Or, as one Minnesota Vikings player put it after learning that Randy Moss(notes) had been acquired Wednesday morning from the New England Patriots for a third-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft: “You think Chilly picks him up at the airport?”/b]
That, of course, was a joke: Vikings coach Brad Childress may have given Brett Favre(notes) the limo-driver treatment the summer before last, when the newly signed quarterback arrived for the final 12 seconds of training camp, but those days are long gone.
[b]Locker-room sources say the frost between Childress and Favre is palpable right now, a bad situation obviously exacerbated by the Vikings’ disappointing 1-2 start. The surprising trade that brings Moss back to Minneapolis, on the heels of a failed attempt to land disgruntled San Diego Chargers wideout Vincent Jackson(notes), is a last-ditch effort to salvage an increasingly volatile situation – one which could take down virtually all of the leading figures if things break the wrong way.
Oddly enough, I kind of love the move. Though I can see disaster unfolding the way you can 10 minutes into a bad action thriller, another part of me believes it’s just crazy enough to work.
As the previously quoted Vikings player added: “I think it’s all or nothing. It’s either the missing piece and we go all the way, or Moss takes on Chilly and this thing blows up by the end of October. There’s no C grade on this one. It’ll either be an A or an F.”
I completely agree. And I swear I was about to write that (albeit in slightly more flowery fashion, if only to justify my existence) before he summed it up so swimmingly.
Either way, it’s a smart move by Zygi Wilf. The Vikings owner is already all-in on the 2010 season, from the extra $7 million he gave Favre after the quarterback flinched slightly before making his second annual post-training-camp pilgrimage, to the desperate push for a new stadium he’s hoping to commence next spring.
This will almost certainly be Favre’s last year (yeah, I know, we’ve heard that before), and his top wideout from last season, Sidney Rice(notes), is on the Physically Unable to Perform list after undergoing hip surgery before the season. Though Rice is eligible to return a few weeks from now, he may not make it back at all in 2010
Rice is one of many Vikings looking to get paid after this season, and some of them won’t be accommodated. As Childress pointed out so eloquently in a short and strange team meeting two weeks ago, many Vikings players won’t be with the team in 2011 – so they’d better have an urgency to win now.
The Vikings’ passing game, which looked so potent last season as Favre was leading the team within a field goal of the Super Bowl, has struggled perceptibly with Rice out and second-year speedster Percy Harvin(notes) battling hip and migraine issues. Favre, who has expressed dissatisfaction with soon-to-be demoted starter (and, before Moss, designated deep threat) Bernard Berrian(notes), was privately upset by the team’s decision to release newly signed Javon Walker(notes), his ex-Packers teammate, in early September. Some in the organization viewed the move as Childress pushing back at Favre.
The growing tension between Favre and Childress, and the sense that the quarterback doesn’t have much respect for the coach as an offensive strategist, has been well-documented since last season – most thoroughly by Y! Sports’ Jason Cole in August. The aforementioned team sources say things have remained strained in recent weeks, with Childress questioning Favre for having altered some plays at the line of scrimmage and questioning his commitment to the team.
Before the Vikings scored their first victory of the season two Sundays ago against the Lions, the previously quoted source says, the two men went nearly a week without speaking. This is a war that, in my opinion, Childress does not want to wage. Yes, he got a contract extension last season, mostly on the strength of Favre’s brilliance. No, he’s not viewed as indispensable by ownership – especially if things degenerate rapidly over the next few months.
Now, be it through the grace of Wilf’s chutzpah or Childress’ own sense of self-preservation, Favre has been handed the most potent deep threat of this era, or perhaps any era. Beginning with his suddenly scintillating return to New Jersey to face the Jets next Monday night, Favre will be throwing to Moss, a player he unsuccessfully lobbied the Packers to acquire before it all blew up for him in Green Bay.