Favre-Childress spat highlights Bevell's role as Vikes' middle man

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- In one corner was Brett Favre, the 40-year-old quarterback who has helped the Minnesota Vikings to their best start in years by injecting some big-play ability into the passing offense this season.

In the other corner was Brad Childress, the fourth-year head coach who would prefer it if Favre simply followed the game plan and ran the plays that are called rather than freelance, as he's wont to do on occasion.

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Serving as the referee in this little tussle is Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, a man uniquely qualified to handle any disputes that arise between this particular pairing of coach and quarterback.

"I think that's part of the job of being the offensive coordinator," Bevell said Thursday. "You're the go-between between the head coach and the quarterback. Obviously there is a hierarchy and you want things to go through the chain of command. That's what I'm there for."

Childress and Favre butted heads Sunday night when the coach considered pulling the quarterback with a 7-6 lead during the third quarter of a game against the Carolina Panthers. Favre vehemently objected and stayed in the game, and the Vikings eventually lost 26-7. Television cameras caught the brief argument, touching off a series of stories this week about how the two men aren't seeing eye to eye.

Both Childress and Favre said Wednesday that the situation has been resolved, and Bevell no doubt played a role in the accord, given his familiarity with both parties involved.

Bevell has known Childress since 1989, when he was a redshirt freshman at Northern Arizona, where Childress was a coach. After serving a two-year Mormon mission, Bevell transferred to Wisconsin, where Childress served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

"He knows from a long way back, when I used to coach him, and I might add, in a hard way at times, kind of what I value and that type of thing," Childress said.

When Childress was hired to coach the Vikings in 2006, he hand-picked Bevell to be his offensive coordinator. The two have worked closely ever since, and Bevell knows what it feels like to be in Childress's cross hairs during a tense moment.

"I think I have extra experience on that," Bevell said with a smile. "I go back a long way with Coach when I was his player and he was getting on me at that time. ... I know exactly what I'm going to get out of him. To me, he's the same. I know what's going to happen, and I do my best to react to it in a positive way."

Bevell's roots with Favre run nearly as deep.

Bevell joined the Green Bay Packers' coaching staff in 2000 and served as Favre's quarterbacks coach from 2003 to 2005, closely working with him on the offensive system. When Bevell left the Packers to join the Vikings in 2006, he remained in close contact with Favre and counts him as a close friend to this day.

"We've had dialogue for a lot of years," Bevell said. "We had dialogue when I was quarterback coach at Green Bay -- plays we might want to use and might not want to use, all those kinds of things. I think there's a very open dialogue."

Favre spoke glowingly of Bevell on Wednesday, saying they "talk each day and text each other every night" while exchanging ideas on the game plan and the offense.

"There's great dialogue between us," Favre said. "He's the offensive coordinator. It should be that way. And so I don't think anything in that relationship needs to change. Darrell thinks a lot like me. He knows me. We go way back. He's really sharp. Good ideas."

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While making it clear that he and Childress have talked out their differences and are on the same page, Favre was much more effusive in his praise of Bevell and former Packers coach Mike Holmgren on Wednesday than he was of Childress. But that could be attributable as much to familiarity as anything else. Favre and Childress have worked together for less than four months, while the quarterback has known Bevell and Holmgren for years.

And with the way Childress runs his meetings, practices and film rooms, there is much more interaction between Favre and Bevell on a daily basis than Favre and Childress.

"I don't sit down with Brad when it comes to game plans and things like that," Favre said. "I sit down with Darrell, and we talk about things and communicate back and forth. I watch film at night. So, that's the way it has been."

Bevell knows Favre and Childress better than anyone else with the Vikings, which might be why he was one of the least surprised when the two had what the quarterback called "a heated discussion" when things weren't going right Sunday night. Those kinds of intense debates are common on NFL sidelines, Bevell said.

"You're working with a bunch of competitive guys," Bevell said. "First and foremost, that's probably the reaction you want out of them."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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