The Packers had just defeated the Vikings in a classic NFC north rivalry game showcased on national television in primetime on Sunday night.
Brett Favre had made only his second trip back to Lambeau Field where for so many years he dazzled us with high-risk, high-reward throws, winning a Super Bowl in the process.
Aaron Rodgers, Favre’s successor, and the Packers needed to win this game and they were able to do so in remarkable fashion: by holding off a late-game drive by Favre and the Vikings, securing a 28-24 victory. Such an important win for the Packers was eclipsed the minute Vikings’ head coach Brad Childress stepped up to the podium.
Childress’ body language indicated that he was — for lack of a more eloquent word — pissed. After ripping the officiating crew for blowing a call on an overturned Visanthe Shiancoe touchdown, a reporter asked, “Brad, could you talk about Brett’s performance tonight?”
As I was watching this, waiting to see Childress’ response, I thought about how good it would look for Childress to call out Favre — to hold players accountable for their play, despite the achievements those players have amassed over their careers.
Never in a million years did I expect to hear the words that came out of Childress’ mouth, but it was better than any single moment in the game that was played in the hours that preceded it.
“You know, it still goes back to taking care of the football. You can’t throw it to them. You gotta play within the confines of our system. You can’t give seven points the other way, not in a game like this with a high-powered team,” Childress said, all the while shifting his weight anxiously and fidgeting with his water bottle.
Childress then went on and called out Favre for running a play to the opposite side of where it was supposed to be run, resulting in a turnover.
Watching the press conference and reading the transcript of the press conference gave off two extremely different feelings. When I saw and heard the comments, I was surprised at how harsh they sounded. But when I read the words, everything that was said was accurate and justified.
“Two and four. We are what our record says we are. You know, when we take care of the football, those are our two wins. And when we don’t take care of the football, those are our losses,” Childress said.
Before debating whether the comments about Favre were justifiable and/or fair, I think that the comments themselves need to be looked at.
Childress was asked a direct question. A question that everyone already knew the answer to. Favre threw three interceptions, all of which could have been avoided.
If Childress had said that Favre played well, fine or just okay, that would have been a clear indication that Brett Favre runs the Minnesota Vikings.
By answering the question honestly and truthfully, Childress treated Favre like any other Vikings player.
The Vikings have one of the most talented teams in the NFL and have been continually hindered by the irresponsible decision-making of Favre.
Their 2-4 record is probably the most surprising losing record other than the 1-4 record of the Dallas Cowboys. And even the most die-hard Brett Favre fan has to admit that Favre’s underwhelming performance this season has been a key reason why the Vikings are struggling.
After the Green Bay performance, Favre’s interception total for the year was 10. In roughly 38 percent of the season, Favre has thrown more interceptions than he threw all of last season and if he remains healthy, which is doubtful, he is on pace to throw 26 interceptions. Only in the 2005-2006 season has Favre had a higher total than 26 — he threw 29 that year.
So what is Brad Childress to do? Does he ignore the fact that Favre has turned the ball over — through fumbles and interceptions — more than any other quarterback in the league, besides Eli Manning?
He could if the Vikings record was better than 2-4. Brad Childress did exactly what his job dictates; he took control of his team and said to the world: Brett Favre doesn’t run the show here, I do.
And despite what Trent Dilfer or Mike Ditka says, Childress wasn’t disrespecting the Favre legacy. I respect Dilfer’s ability to dissect the game of football and give insight into the NFL. But my view of him changed entirely when he relentlessly ripped Childress for almost a half-hour and gave Favre equally as strong praise. Were we watching the same press conference?
After watching Childress’ postgame, I had to see Favre’s too. After hobbling up to the podium, Favre answered the first question by talking about his own record in close games. It’s never about “we” with Favre, only “me” and “I”.
“It’s [losing that] is never easy to accept, at least for me. You know I don’t know what my record is, and I shouldn’t say my record but being in that situation, it seems like we’ve won a lot of those games.”
What it boils down to is this: on Sunday night, Brett Favre’s reckless decision-making and disregard for his team’s offensive system lost the Vikings a game against an interdivision rival on the road.
Brad Childress was asked a direct question about the performance of Favre and he answered honestly and without harshness. I don’t care what Trent Dilfer says; Childress acted the way a head coach should act.
For years Brad Childress has been viewed as “second in command” to the will of Brett Favre.
On Sunday night, Brett Favre became just another player in the Vikings locker room, and Brad Childress finally became a head coach.