Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Coach laments Randy Moss trade
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Randy Moss experiment blew up in Brad Childress' face, a spectacular football and public relations failure that has turned up the pressure on the Minnesota Vikings' coach.
Higher than when the Vikings went 6-10 in his first year on the job. Higher than when fans filled the Metrodome with chants of "Fire Childress!" in 2008.
Childress spoke Wednesday, two days after deciding to cut Moss less than a month into his second stint in Minnesota. He declined to answer repeated questions about the specifics of the decision, including the motives behind it and whom he consulted before placing the receiver on waivers.
"It was a poor decision," Childress said, referring to the Oct. 6 deal in which the Vikings sent a third-round draft choice to the Patriots for Moss. "I've got to stand up and I have to make it right. When it's not right, you need to make it right."
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, who signed off on bringing Moss back to Minnesota and increasing the team payroll by about $5 million, has declined comment.
Childress is also under heavy criticism for the way the transaction was handled, which has reflected poorly on the organization. Childress did not mention his plans to waive Moss during a news conference Monday that was broadcast live to fans across the state, minutes before he told his players in a team meeting that Moss wasn't coming back.
He finally issued a statement more than six hours after the news first broke.
"I have to answer for my decisions," Childress said. "In the long run with ownership, obviously, my name is affixed to wins and losses in this program here. So, it's not an attempt to deceive, it's just a matter of letting the people know that need to know. And when we came out with the statement, that's when all that had been done."
The latest mess comes on top of a 2-5 start for a veteran team that expected to make a run at the Super Bowl, prompting questions about Childress' job security.
"I'd say that's up to everybody else to look at," Childress said. "I know that basically it's usually tied to how many wins you have and how many losses you have."
Moss didn't help much in that department. The Vikings lost three of the four games he played in purple, and his antics in the locker room and during a postgame rant to the media only made the situation worse.
Moss first raised some eyebrows in the Vikings' locker room last Friday when he berated a caterer who brought in food for the team after practice.
"I wouldn't do it," Brett Favre said. "I was sitting in my locker eating the food. I thought it was pretty good."
Moss also showed little effort to catch a pass near the end zone in the loss to the Patriots on Sunday, but the final straw may have come after the 28-18 loss.
Moss gave a rambling statement to the media, gushing with praise for coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots and criticizing Vikings coaches for not listening to his input during the week. He was claimed off waivers by the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday.
"I wished and hoped that it would have worked out as well," Childress said. "But it was a programmatic nonfit, and it didn't work out. When things don't work out, you need to move quickly to take steps."
Favre said he and most of the players on the team were "a little bit shocked" when Childress informed them Monday that Moss would not be back. But he also said support for the team "never wavered."
"It definitely surprised us," said receiver Percy Harvin, who blossomed with Moss commanding double teams on the outside. "We kind of looked at him kind of like, 'Are you serious?'
"It came out of nowhere. It caught a lot of us off guard. But that's coach's decision. If he felt that was for the betterment of the team, then that's what it is."
Favre said he would be the first to admit that he doesn't always see eye-to-eye with Childress, but also acknowledged that some of the coaches justifiably disagree with his decisions on the field.
"Good teams are the teams that can overcome adversity, work well together," Favre said. "Having a good working relationship doesn't mean you have to like each other. That goes for any phase of business or sports."
Childress has never been a fan favorite in Minnesota. Even through two straight division titles and last season's thrilling run to the NFC title game, the team's passionate fan base has always viewed him with a skeptical eye.
They chanted "Fire Childress!" during an underwhelming performance against Detroit in 2008, but the Vikings won that game and went on to finish the season 10-6, win the NFC North and make the playoffs.
"No offense to the fans, but they don't always see the big picture of what goes on inside the walls of this facility," receiver Greg Camarillo said. "Randy's a good player. We can never take anything away from that. He's a good player, but we need 53 team players and that's what coach emphasized and that's what we have now and that's what we're going to roll forward with."
Childress signed a five-year extension during last year's run, which ended one play away from the team's first Super Bowl berth since the 1976 season.
Now the clumsy handling of Moss, one of the most popular players in team history despite numerous problems off the field, is only fueling the rancor.
"I'm fine," Childress said. "I'm really at peace. The decisions I make are for the best welfare of the Minnesota Vikings. I can look myself in mirror every night when I go to bed and know that in my heart of hearts."