Roaming the hallways of the NFL.com and NFL Network offices in Culver City, Calif., on Wednesday, Childress opened up about his unceremonious departure from Minnesota last November.
The Vikings decided to fire Childress 10 games into the season for many reasons. Their 3-7 record, for one. Their embarrassing 31-3 home loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 11, another. But perhaps the biggest reason was Childress' odd jettisoning of Randy Moss -- without telling owner Zygi Wilf first -- just four weeks after the team traded for the receiver.
"I should have gone up the chain," Childress now admits.
Childress said he had no such regrets about bringing back the Vikings' other big headliner, quarterback Brett Favre, for another season. The courting of Favre last August brought vitriol from some corners because of his age (40) and the distraction he created by missing minicamp. But the Vikings were fresh off an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2009, and Favre was the man who took them there. Childress said it was a no-brainer to chase Favre rather than go into 2010 with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.
"(Favre) had his best season ever his first year (in Minnesota)," Childress said of Favre's 33-touchdown, seven-interception campaign. "Could you do more with Brett Favre? Absolutely you could."
It's easy to criticize in hindsight, after Favre stumbled through a 24-turnover, injury-marred campaign.
"We made a conscious effort to bring everybody back," Childress said. "What did we get for it? I got fired, and (Favre) got hurt. Did I feel like he was as sharp as he could've been? No."
As for the Moss fiasco, Childress said he wanted to acquire a player who would be a difference-maker for the Vikings after they got off to a disappointing 1-2 start. They needed a player who could stretch the field while Sidney Rice recuperated from an injury.
Enter Moss. He made a difference all right, unfortunately tipping the needle in the wrong direction.
"He called me and said, 'I can't wait, I can't wait. I feel like I'm coming home again,' " Childress recalled.
Despite Moss' reputation for loafing and being a distraction, Childress believed the receiver would be more mature with 12 seasons under his belt. He believed Moss wouldn't be a distraction in the locker room.
Uh, not so much.
"We had good guys, by and large," Childress said, "(but Moss) walked in the locker room and vomited on it."
Childress had tried to develop a better locker room since becoming the Vikings' head coach in 2005. He inherited a team coming off the "Love Boat" scandal and a quarterback (Daunte Culpepper) with a bad knee and not the best work habits.
By 2010, Childress believed he had righted the Vikings ship in the character department and could afford to take on Moss. But instead of augmenting that veteran leadership with another quality veteran, the Vikings got a 1-3 record, 13 receptions and at least as many headaches from Moss' tenure.
Was Childress the perfect coach? No. But he's a smart guy who started his career with a tiny stipend to assist Gary Moeller at Illinois. That was 1979. Childress' first job in the NFL was 26 years ago in Indianapolis with Rod Dowhower. Basically, he's a football lifer.
"Coaching is what I do," he said.
And he has enjoyed much success at it, despite being vilified since Leslie Frazier took over in Minneapolis. People forget how sought after Childress was while being a part of a Philadelphia Eagles staff that went to four consecutive NFC Championship Games. Charley Casserly in Houston called him, Ted Thompson in Green Bay called him and, of course, so did the Vikings. Remember, the failure in Minnesota wasn't solely his fault. He did what so many coaches do tactically, and got a lot further than many doing it.
That might be all he needs to answer for.