MINNEAPOLIS -- Zygi Wilf was looking for more than just a
winner when he interviewed candidates for the Minnesota Vikings'
After a first season as an NFL owner littered with ticket
scalping, Whizzinators and scandalous boat parties off the field,
and a disappointing 9-7 record on it, Wilf wanted a steadying
Philadelphia offensive coordinator Brad Childress was hired
Friday to replace the fired Mike Tice, whose four-season tenure was
plagued by player malfeasance and only moderate success.
"Coach Childress was the elite NFL head coaching candidate,"
Wilf said. "He embodies class, character and discipline and is a
great family man. Bottom line, Brad Childress is a winner."
Childress, who signed a five-year guaranteed contract, knows
what lies ahead. He quoted former football coach Gene Stallings
that, "the fun in this business is winning." But he added a
"The mandate is clear, however, that it needs to be done with
the class and dignity that the Wilf family exudes," said
Childress, dressed for the part in a purple tie and Vikings lapel
The 49-year-old has been the Eagles' offensive coordinator since
2002 and helped lead Philly to four straight NFC East titles and
last year's Super Bowl. This is his first head coaching job.
A lifelong assistant, Childress started at Illinois in 1978. He
was the quarterbacks coach for Indianapolis in 1985 before holding
assistant positions with Northern Arizona, Utah and Wisconsin.
Childress joined the Eagles as quarterbacks coach under Andy
Reid in 1999, earning praise for his work with Donovan McNabb and
has been considered for head coaching jobs the last few years.
"When you work your way up the ladder and have to grind like
that, it gives you a great appreciation for the process,"
Childress said. "I'm happy I got this one and not some of the
Minnesota also interviewed defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell,
Kansas City assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Al
Saunders and Indianapolis assistant head coach and quarterbacks
coach Jim Caldwell.
With eight head coaching positions open across the league, the
Vikings wanted to move quickly. Childress was scheduled to meet
with Green Bay and Houston, but Wilf persuaded him to stay in the
Twin Cities for a second interview, and Childress never went
"These guys jumped out. It's one of those deals where you
snooze, you lose," Childress said, adding that the process was
thorough despite the speed.
Childress inherits a team that had plenty of off-the-field
distractions for most of Tice's four full seasons as coach.
In 2005 alone, the Vikings had to deal with Tice being fined
$100,000 for scalping Super Bowl tickets, running back Onterrio
Smith being suspended for the season for substance abuse and being
caught at the airport with "The Original Whizzinator," a device
used to beat drug tests, and the now-infamous boat party on Lake
Minnetonka that brought misdemeanor charges against four players.
Tice was a fiery, emotional coach, and his team seemed to adopt
that temperament. Under Tice, the Vikings were erratic, prone to
winning and losing streaks and late-season collapses.
Childress brings a much lower-key demeanor and an even-keeled
approach -- like his mentor, Reid.
"He's a classy, determined individual," Vikings running back
Mewelde Moore said. "Those are the characteristics you love to see
in a head coach."
McNabb called Childress "a great human being."
"It's well-deserved and as sad as it is for me to know that he
is leaving, I am very excited to see that he has an opportunity to
fulfill a dream and get their program kick-started in the right
direction," McNabb said.
And Childress knows all about dealing with distractions, having
coached Terrell Owens for two seasons. He said the Owens saga
taught him "that it was about the team, the team, the team, the
With Childress in tow, Wilf now will concentrate on hiring a
personnel man to work with Childress and salary cap guru Rob
Brzezinski to remake the Vikings' image.
"The most important thing to me is that people do the right
thing," Childress said. "If it's good for you and right -- do it
and do it with great vigor and enthusiasm. If it's bad for you --
jump away from it like it's hot lava."