FORT WORTH, TEXAS - There was a time when Mewelde Moore wanted less Brad Childress and much more Mike Tomlin.
It was 2006, when the three were together with the Vikings. Childress was the first-year head coach, Tomlin the first-year defensive coordinator and Moore the second-year running back.
"When I was in the offensive meetings with Brad, and I would hear Mike through the walls inspiring the defense, I was sitting there thinking, 'Why isn't this guy the head coach?'" said Moore, now getting set to play for his second Super Bowl title in three seasons with the Steelers. "If he had been the offensive coordinator, I would have been right there with him because he was a guy you believed in. I always knew he was destined one day to be a head coach."
And he was. After one season with the Vikings, a 34-year-old Tomlin was hired as head coach of the Steelers. When Moore reached free agency a year later, he knew exactly where he wanted to sign: Pittsburgh, to play for the young coach with the infectious attitude and, as Moore puts it, the "it" quality.
"You knew right away he had the understanding of knowing football, playing football and being around football players and addressing them that way," Moore said of Tomlin, who, like Childress, never played in the NFL. "With Brad, it was more schoolteacher, mundane, boring."
This was an odd season in drastically different ways in both Pittsburgh and Minnesota. The Steelers missed the playoffs last year and were forced to play their first four games without their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The Vikings, meanwhile, reached the NFC Championship Game last year and were NFC favorites because they were able to secure their franchise quarterback, Brett Favre, right before the season started.
The Steelers started 3-1 despite being down to their fourth-string quarterback. The Vikings started 1-3 with Favre and never recovered.
Now, Tomlin stands 60 minutes from becoming the youngest coach to win two Super Bowls. Childress was fired and is out of the league for now.
Moore was seated inside Texas Christian University's Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on Thursday when a Minnesotan with nothing better to do brought up 2006. Moore was asked to describe the biggest difference between Tomlin and Childress when it comes to coaching.
"Simple," Moore said. "One you respect, one you don't."
You can guess which one is which, at least in Moore's eyes.
"I tried to do everything Brad wanted," Moore said. "But as you go through games and things happen at adverse moments and chances and adjustments need to be made, it just wasn't there for him, man. I'm just trying to keep it real. Not trying to talk bad about Brad. That's just me being straight up."
Moore said Childress was unyielding in the way he wanted the West Coast offense run. That's a complaint that's been made before.
"One individual, [quarterback] Brad Johnson, understood the West Coast offense but also understood there are defensive schemes designed to try and stop certain things," Moore said. "You'd need to make adjustments in midgame. Brad would be making those necessary adjustments on the field, and we'd be making plays, too. But sometimes it was like head-butting with Brad because that wasn't what he wanted."
Moore did have high praise for Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.
"There's going to be a point in time when Minnesota wins because the Vikings have a great owner in Zygi Wilf," Moore said. "With good people, things will catch on there."
One of those good persons, Moore said, is new coach Leslie Frazier, who was in his first year as Vikings defensive coordinator when Moore was in his last year with the Vikings.
"He's different than Mike Tomlin," Moore said. "But he has that Tony Dungy makeup going on."
So how does Frazier compare to Childress?
"Apples and oranges, man," Moore said. "Apples and oranges."
Mark Craig • firstname.lastname@example.org