Favre says everything’s OK
By Dave Campbell
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. ó Brad Childress and Brett Favre talked twice this week about moving forward from their animated disagreement on the Minnesota sideline last week over the coach’s suggestion his grizzled quarterback should come out of the game.
That’s what they insisted on Wednesday, blaming the high-profile nature of national television for what they declared a blown-out-of proportion issue.
“I think it’s all resolved, first of all,” Favre said, adding: “The fact that we’ve lost two of the last three ó the frustration is going to show. It should.”
The Vikings (11-3) are trying to get back on track before the playoffs, but the Favre-led offense has found trouble for the first time this season. Minnesota has lost two of the last three games, and Favre has thrown for only three touchdowns with four interceptions this month.
The offense clearly needed a spark against the Panthers last Sunday night, and Childress was justifiably concerned for Favre’s health while taking several hard hits from Julius Peppers and a fierce defense.
However, the mere consideration of benching the three-time NFL MVP ó who’s a candidate this year for a fourth ó with the Vikings taking a 7-6 lead into the fourth quarter struck most observers as strange.
Asked in Chicago about the Childress-Favre confrontation, quarterback Jay Cutler smiled while expressing doubt coach Lovie Smith would try to do the same if the Bears were winning a tight game.
The report by ESPN, citing unnamed sources, that Childress and Favre have clashed over the in-game authority for calling the plays, provided some unsubstantiated evidence for the tension. It also cast doubt about their chemistry, but both of them attempted to downplay any lingering dissension.
“I think the team as well as the coaching staff knows where I stand and what I stand for, as I do them,” Favre said. “We’re trying to do this thing together.”
The coach offered as much.
“I feel like I have a good relationship with him,” Childress said. “I don’t think anything has really changed. Have we learned each other since September or August? I’m sure we have.”
As for whether Favre resented Childress grabbing his arm during the exchange in Carolina, he used a little gallows humor.
“I was probably more resentful of Julius touching me several times. Those seemed to hurt a little,” Favre said, insisting he was more concerned about overreacting with so many people ó including his daughters ó watching on TV.
Since taking over in 2006, Childress has pushed for a disciplined approach from his quarterbacks. Veterans Brad Johnson and Gus Frerotte each expressed frustration afterward with his rigid coaching and unwillingness to listen to their lobbying.
With his experience in the West Coast system, his status as the NFL’s all-time leading passer and his close relationship with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Favre has undoubtedly enjoyed more impact on the game plans and freedom to inject his voice than other Vikings quarterbacks of the past three years.
In reading between their lines, though, it appears Childress and Favre have some natural differences of interpretation on the level of latitude the quarterback should have at the line of scrimmage to orchestrate the offense.
“He sees a lot,” Childress said. “He looks at tape. He knows what it means. He looks at indicators. I’ve talked to you guys about him spending time at it. Now I’d be lying to you if I told you he spends more time than we do. But he spends a lot of time at it.”
They both tried to steer away from their dispute, with Childress praising Favre for being “extremely true” to the offense and Favre claiming he considers himself a coachable player.
“Anyone that’s ever played the game, we all think we know it all at some point,” Favre said. “And I know that’s not the case. I know our offense starts with Adrian Peterson and that’s where it ends, and we have to get that back on track.”
Childress denied ever ordering Favre out of a game. He also insisted the quarterback is “fully armed” when it comes to being able to switch a play from a run to a pass or vice versa.
Asked how he’d handle this if he were a coach, Favre rambled for a few minutes before bringing up his friendship with former coach Mike Holmgren and describing Holmgren’s willingness to listen to his suggestions once he was “three or four years into it” and had earned his trust. Favre spoke at length of his appreciation of Bevell, too.
Favre did, however, acknowledge he doesn’t know how a coach would handle bringing in “an old-timer like myself.”
Coincidentally, Favre was voted by his teammates as the most valuable offensive player, as Childress revealed Wednesday. Allen won the defensive award and kicker Ryan Longwell was honored on special teams.
Linebacker E.J. Henderson, who broke his left leg earlier this month, was chosen as Minnesota’s winner of the Ed Block Courage Award.