Vikings fire Brad Childress as coach
By Mark Maske
UPDATED (6:08 p.m.)...
The Minnesota Vikings fired Brad Childress as their coach Monday and named defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier their interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Frazier announced that Brett Favre will remain the team's starter at quarterback.
The coaching move came a day after a lopsided loss to the Green Bay Packers dropped the Vikings' record to 3-7 in a season in which they hoped to be a top Super Bowl contender.
"We just felt that moving forward, this is what the best thing was for the organization," Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said at a news conference at the team's headquarters.
Childress became the second NFL coach fired this season, following the Dallas Cowboys' Wade Phillips.
The Vikings play the Washington Redskins this weekend at FedEx Field.
"There will be a lot of things written about the past," Frazier said after being officially introduced by Wilf at the news conference. "But the one thing I'm hoping that all of our players recognize is that we can only do what we can do going forward. And that means our focus and our attention has to be on the Washington Redskins, period. Anything else is really inconsequential to what we have to achieve as a group. And that's the one thing I tried to get across to our players."
The Vikings' future will include Favre continuing to start at quarterback, at least for now.
"There is no hesitation for me in that regard," Frazier said. "Brett is a tremendous quarterback. He's been a leader of our football team in the year and a half that he's been with us. There are some things that we have to do as a group to help support Brett, and that would be my message to our football team. But Brett Favre will be our starting quarterback on Sunday."
Favre said after Sunday's 31-3 defeat at home to the Packers, his former team, that he would re-evaluate his status. Some media members have called for the Vikings to turn to Favre's backup, Tarvaris Jackson, as the starter at quarterback.
Childress called his time with the Vikings "a tremendous experience."
In a written statement released by the team, Childress said: "I have a great respect for the players and coaches who I have worked with and for their dedication to each other and to the organization. I am proud of our accomplishments and believe the foundation of this football team is stronger today than when I became head coach in 2006. I appreciate the opportunity that Zygi, Mark, and the whole Wilf family afforded me and wish them success as they move forward."
Childress was in his fifth season with the Vikings and had a record of 39-35 in the regular season and 1-2 in the playoffs. The team reached the NFC title game last season but lost in overtime at New Orleans.
Last November, the Vikings signed Childress to a contract extension reportedly running through the 2012 season, plus a team option for the 2013 season.
The Vikings had aspirations to go a step further and reach the Super Bowl this season, particularly after convincing Favre to put off another retirement and return to the team for a second season.
But little has gone the Vikings' way.
Favre, after turning back the clock last season by throwing 33 touchdown passes with only seven interceptions to finish fourth in the NFL most valuable player balloting in what he called his best season, has played this season more like the 41-year-old grandfather that he is. He has 10 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions and is the league's 32nd-rated passer.
He also has played through a series of injuries, and is under investigation by the NFL after it was reported that he sent inappropriate electronic messages to a former New York Jets employee when both were with that team. That employee, Jenn Sterger, was interviewed by the league as part of the investigation and Favre potentially could face disciplinary action if the NFL determines that he violated its personal conduct policy.
Childress lured Favre out of the quarterback's second retirement from the NFL prior to last season, and even drove to the airport personally to pick up Favre when he first joined the team. But the relationship between Childress and Favre wasn't always smooth.
Childress was critical of Favre's three-interception performance following a loss at Green Bay earlier this season. There were reports of friction between Childress and Favre, which Favre addressed by saying he didn't always have to agree with his coach. There were an increasing number of reports in recent weeks that other Vikings players lacked confidence in Childress. There reportedly was a heated practice-field argument between Childress and Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin. The team's fans took to calling for Childress's ouster.
The Vikings surrendered a third-round draft choice to trade for wide receiver Randy Moss this season, but Moss was released after playing only four games for the team. There was speculation after Moss was waived that Wilf might dismiss Childress then over his dissatisfaction with Childress's handling of the matter. A triumph over the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 7 perhaps saved Childress's job temporarily, but the Vikings followed that win with losses to the Chicago Bears and Packers.
"There wasn't one component that factored into this decision," Wilf said Monday. "It's just we felt that we made the best decision for the organization moving forward. We have high expectations for this team and want to capitalize on what is left of the season."
Wilf hired Childress in January 2006 after firing Mike Tice as the team's coach. The franchise had been plagued by scandals that included Tice being fined by the league for his role in selling Super Bowl tickets, and four players being charged with disorderly and lewd conduct for their behavior during an infamous incident aboard a cruise boat in 2005.
Childress had been the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles. With the Eagles, Childress had clashed with wide receiver Terrell Owens, who had refused to speak to Childress at one point.
The Vikings went 6-10 in 2006 in Childress's first season with the team, then improved to eight wins in 2007, 10 in 2008 and 12 last season. Things unraveled this season, however.
The Vikings announced that Frazier will be the team's head coach for the remainder of the season. Frazier is regarded as one of the top head coaching candidates league-wide. He had head coaching interviews last offseason with the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks. The previous offseason, Frazier had head coaching interviews with the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos.
The Vikings can only hope the dismissal of Childress provides them with the same immediate results experienced by the Cowboys, who started 1-7 but have won their two games since owner Jerry Jones ousted Phillips and elevated offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to interim head coach.
November 22, 2010; 12:18 PM ET
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