Having covered Brad Childress' first season as Vikings coach in 2006, it's easy to remember just how unpopular he became in such a short time.
He wasn't particularly popular in the locker room and the fan base quickly turned on his my-way or the highway approach. Although some never forgave him after the Vikings went 6-10 that season, the team did show yearly improvement and Childress earned a contract extension through the 2013 season.
Childress was never going to be a fan favorite but things seemed to be better. Until now.
As if the Vikings' 2-5 start and Childress' issues with quarterback Brett Favre weren't bad enough, the Vikings coach has managed to ignite the collective ire of the fan base by releasing Randy Moss after only four games and then going into 2006 mode.
Why did Childress do it? He hasn't said. The Vikings issued a statement on Monday night from Childress that shed no light on the decision and have declined comment since. Childress went on Sirius NFL Radio on Tuesday and essentially said he wasn't talking about it.
Making things worse, Childress got up at his news conference on Monday and fielded a dozen Moss-related questions talking about him as if he was still part of the plan. A short time later Childress told his players that Moss was going to be waived and that if that meant he was going to be fired as coach so be it.
Even owner Zygi Wilf wasn't brought into the loop when he should have been, causing the Moss move to be delayed and creating very legitimate questions about how much longer Childress will be coach of this team.
So what happens next? Childress is scheduled to address the media at 11:30 this morning in what might be the most important news conference he will ever hold. His failure to be candid at all about the Moss situation on Monday meant that he was not only deceiving the media (this happens all the time) but he was doing the same to the fan base. Remember, news conferences are often carried by television and radio stations now, meaning that fans can get a first-hand look at what the coach is saying (or not saying).
Wilf has spent the past two days in New Jersey but it will be interesting to see if he comes to town to see what his coach has to say. Part of the issue here is that fair or not, any slip up by Childess is going to cause talk that the Vikings are setting their stadium efforts back. (An issue that is obviously near and dear to Wilf's heart.)
If Childress elects to stonewall the masses again today it will be interesting to see the response. What the Vikings likely failed to realize when they brought Moss to town is that no matter what type of person he is, he also was fan favorite in Minnesota. A guy who helped redefine how the Vikings were perceived as a team and caused many to buy season tickets in the late 1990s.
Listening to talk shows or doing a live chat on Tuesday made it clear that Moss remained extremely popular. It's a reason this move was so unpopular and if there isn't some type of explanation for why it happened the anger among many is going to grow.
There are many times when being candid makes little sense for NFL teams and coaches. In this case, however, transparency (and plenty of it) would be a very good idea for Childress and Co.