EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- I walked out of Minnesota coach Brad Childress’ news conference Monday feeling pretty confident about a few things:
1. There have been occasions this season when Childress has considered pulling quarterback Brett Favre from a game for performance reasons.
2. Sunday night at Carolina was not one of those times.
3. Childress’ relationship with Favre is too close to "colleague" and too far from "coach-player."
Childress provided a pretty convincing argument that he was concerned about Favre’s long-term health after watching him take a “beating” at the hands of Carolina’s defense. He said he told Favre: "It has nothing to do with how you’re playing. It has to do with what’s happening to you out there."
Favre said Sunday night that he wasn’t sure if Childress wanted to make a change to "protect" him or because the offense wasn’t moving the ball well. But let’s not rule out the possibility of Favre overdramatizing the discussion in the heat of a disappointing loss. I just can’t believe that Childress, no matter how connected he has been with backup Tarvaris Jackson, actually believed the Vikings had a better chance to win Sunday night with someone other than Favre at quarterback.
That doesn’t mean Childress hasn’t been upset with some of Favre’s play this season. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter have reported Childress wanted to bench Favre during a Nov. 1 game at Green Bay, and the Star Tribune reported the same thing was communicated during a Nov. 15 game against Detroit before cooler heads prevailed.
Childress was evasive when asked about those incidents Monday, saying he had not "approached" Favre before Sunday about leaving a game. But when asked if he had considered it, Childress said: "Now we’re going deep. I’m going to let you guys go deep with however you want."
If Childress made a mistake Sunday night, it was approaching Favre with a "stream of consciousness" thought in the first place. I’m sure Childress realizes how big of a deal it is to pull a starter from a 1-point game in the third quarter. The player isn’t going to take it well. So it shouldn’t be a discussion or an open-ended thought. No matter how experienced Favre is in the ways of the NFL, he’s no different than any other player: He’ll react poorly to it.
Childress said he "appreciated" Favre’s reaction and also took a shot at himself for verbalizing what was going through his head.
"Usually children do that," Childress said. "They give you the straight stream of consciousness all the time, appropriate or inappropriate. Mine was more communicative. It was to stimulate some dialogue. I wasn’t trying to get a goat. I was just telling him what I was seeing."
Compare the Favre discussion with the way the Vikings handled the decision to bench left tackle Bryant McKinnie in the same game. By Monday afternoon, Childress said he still hadn’t spoken with McKinnie -- an eight-year veteran -- about the decision.
Every reporter/blogger loves a good "he said, she said." In reality, however, this is a "he shouldn’t have said" story.