EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The negative fallout that has Vikings coach Brad Childress in the crosshairs of fans -- and some, if not most of his players -- doesn't necessarily stem from his decision to cut wideout Randy Moss.
Problems deeply rooted
They all stem from internal decisions, mainly by Childress, whose credibility in the locker room has never been more at stake than it is now. I have spoken to players and agents of players, and for months things have been fragile. And with every loss, things get worse. This Moss mess may tip things way in the wrong direction.
We'll see Sunday how they play against Arizona. That will tell all.
The message I'm hearing isn't so much the questioning of why Moss was cut, but more of why he was brought in at all if they were going to cut him -- even if he hadn't played well and behaved inappropriately at times.
Childress had to know Moss was combustible, potentially miserable and boorish. He has a long track record, and if his early-season rant that got him traded out of New England to Minnesota wasn't an indicator of what could be forthcoming, I don't know what is.
Just as Childress hedged his bets and livelihood on Brett Favre the moment he picked him up in his truck at the airport in the summer of 2009, he hedged once again on Moss. At least Childress got one great season from Favre. He didn't even get a good game from Moss.
And now Minnesota is back to where it was before it gave up a third round pick for Moss.
The vibe in the building Wednesday was not good. Very few players came out to talk to the media, and I don't blame them. Childress left them to speak for him after he didn't come clean about Moss' departure Monday, even though he knew what he planned to do before a news conference. Some players were probably scared they might say how they really felt and make things worse.
For the way Childress handled things Monday, he was fricasseed by media Wednesday, especially by Minneapolis Star-Tribune beat writer Judd Zulgad, who does as good a job as anyone I've known covering a team. Childress tried his best to answer questions, but his answers did little more to earn him any credibility from a press corps that is growing weary of trusting him -- like his players.
I like Childress a lot, but he's put himself in the middle of a scalding hot vat of mess. With a loss to Arizona, I don't see how he makes it through the season -- or even to next week.
What's going on also shows how fragile a line of success and failure can be in the NFL. This is almost the exact team Minnesota took to the NFC championship last season. However, things began to unravel when Favre held the team up again with his delayed training camp arrival. Then Pro Bowl wide receiver Sidney Rice waited too long to have hip surgery -- the precursor for getting Moss.
Another underlying issue -- and I've heard this from several agents of players on the team -- is how ownership didn't want to extend a lot of players' contracts that are expiring, like Ray Edwards and others. They came into the season unhappy, and the morale wasn't quite what it should have been. It's worse now.
I've got a feeling Moss picked up on that right away and decided to not try and bring guys above it.
Childress said Wednesday that he tried to call and text Moss several times on Monday to tell him he was going to cut him, but Moss never picked up. V.P. of player personnel Rick Spielman was the one who eventually got through. Think about it: Moss didn't know what Childress was calling about, I presume. Still he didn't pick up.
As Favre said, there are nine games left for the Vikings, which could be a good or bad thing. I don't think Minnesota is out of the playoff hunt, but the vibe around that team right now isn't good and we might not have to wait nine games to find out how whether this story will end well.