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Role reversal: This time Favre drives Childress out of Minnesota

  • By Vic Carucci NFL.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- In the end, Brett Favre won the power struggle with Brad Childress.

Predictably, the coach was fired because under these circumstances, one of two things happens: The quarterback gets benched or the coach gets fired.

Favre extended his NFL record for consecutive regular-season starts to 295 on Sunday. And fewer than 24 hours after Favre and the rest of the Minnesota Vikings gave such a dreadful showing in a 31-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Childress paid the price.

Jim Mone / Associated Press
Brett Favre had career-best numbers in several categories last year, but has struggled mightily after deciding to return for his 20th season.
Favre's 2009 season
Yards Comp Pct TDs/INTs Rating Record
4,202 68.4 33/7 107.2 12-4
Favre after 10 games in 2010
2,274 60.2 10/17 69.8 3-7
Favre's 2010 projected numbers
3,638 60.2 16/27 69.8 --

The Vikings' efforts to tidy up what is left of their miserably disappointing season shouldn't stop there. Favre should go, too, if not as a Viking altogether then at least as a starter, although interim coach Leslie Frazier announced on Monday that Favre will remain his No. 1 quarterback.

Favre has been every bit as responsible as Childress for the team's struggles, and probably more. Childress made his share of mistakes and might not have done the best job of earning or maintaining the trust of all of his players.

However, Childress' days as the Vikings' coach were pretty well numbered when, upon Favre's arrival in Minnesota, he picked up the quarterback at the airport. Childress understood all too well that his team's chances of being a contender hinged on the hope that Favre still had plenty of those dynamic plays left in his tank. But recognizing a player's importance is one thing. Doing something for him that wasn't done for any other player on the team was going way over the top.

From that moment forward, Favre wasn't merely the Vikings' new quarterback. He was their coach, too. He had far greater power and influence over the team than Childress could ever hope to have, and that severely hampered Childress' credibility as the man in charge.

There were rules for Favre, who could stay away from offseason workouts and anything else that he didn't feel like doing, and there were rules for the rest of the team. Why did Favre have to come to the Vikings' facility in the offseason when Childress would make a trip to Mississippi to visit him? That is, when the coach and other players on the team weren't texting him to gauge how he felt about coming back for a second season.

The entire tail-wagging-the-dog atmosphere created obvious tension between Favre and Childress, who also didn't always see eye-to-eye on the offensive scheme and how game plans were designed and other points that put authority to the test.

But 10 games into his second season here and 20th in the NFL, Favre no longer has the game to justify extra-special treatment, if it ever was justified. Childress' firing isn't going to suddenly turn Favre into a better player.

Allowing him to remain the Vikings' starting quarterback is silly. It comes off as a cheap way to extend his "Ironman" streak and accomplishes nothing beyond preventing the team from at least giving some meaningful playing time to Tarvaris Jackson. Is Jackson the Vikings' quarterback of the future? Maybe not. But he certainly has more of an NFL future than Favre.

After Sunday's loss, there was a clear recognition that the only thing left to play for was pride -- something that didn't seem in great supply during the game -- and perhaps there is the added motivation of trying to boost the stock of Frazier.

"When you've got nothing to play for but the game," defensive end Jared Allen said, "you're going to find out who likes to play."

That had never been a question with Favre. He's the guy who always loves tossing the football around, whether it's in an NFL game or with his buddies in his Wrangler jeans.

Yet, it is a question now, even with Childress out the door. It was a question that reporters asked Favre, whose unwillingness to offer a firm answer made you think that in his mind he already has called it a career. It was a question they asked Childress, whose response was, "That's always a concern as a coach."

Favre didn't let himself be coaxed out of another retirement last August for this. Encouraged by one of the best seasons of his career in 2009, good enough to get the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game, he came back for another run at a Super Bowl.

"I also knew there is a chance that wouldn't happen," Favre said. "Probably a better chance that it doesn't. A way better chance that you don't play as good as you did last year."

True enough. But Favre has been awful. He looks like a 41-year-old playing a kids' game is supposed to look. He looks like he has finally hit the wall. Favre's body and skills have eroded to the point where the expectation of greatness has been replaced by the likelihood of a mistake waiting to happen.

Such was the case when, on the Vikings' one promising drive on Sunday, Favre threw an interception that Packers cornerback Tramon Williams made by baiting the QB into the throw and jumping the route as if the pass were intended for him. "I knew exactly what was going to happen," Williams said after the game. "Exactly."

If a 28-point win can have a turning point, that was it because the Vikings were never the same. When Favre returned to the sidelines, he got into a heated exchange with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. That was on top of the sideline shouting match between defensive end Ray Edwards and rookie cornerback Chris Cook, who along with Asher Allen was having a long day while Aaron Rodgers threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns (three to Greg Jennings).

Everything was unraveling for the Vikings on Sunday, and Childress, even with a contract that guarantees he will be paid through 2012, wasn't going to escape the consequences.

But Favre doesn't merit a free pass. Rather than make an attempt to pull things together, he got lost in his own little world at Mall of America Field.

With the Packers holding a 24-3 lead and facing a third-and-1 from the Vikings' 22 with 9:48 left in the fourth quarter, Favre kneeled on the sideline with his head down. Seeing the Vikings' season sink deeper, while having the final nail in their coffin hammered by the Packers, was too much for him to bear. Rodgers proceeded to throw his fourth scoring pass on the game, and Favre's hand swiped the ground.

There wasn't a whole lot of sympathy for Favre in the Green Bay locker room. The closest friend he still has on the team, wide receiver Donald Driver, said he didn't pay a whole lot of attention to Favre until he and the rest of the Packers starters were pulled from the game with about nine minutes left.

Was it at all difficult to see Favre struggling?

"I guess you could say a little bit," Driver said. "You always wish that your friends play great, but you still want to win the game."

The Packers' desire to win was driven by aspirations of capturing the NFC North title and getting to the Super Bowl.

For the Vikings, winning will be their only prize for the next six weeks.

It hardly seems like enough for a guy who once had a coach who picked him up at the airport.

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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