Monday, November 8, 2010

Rationality



Sports can cause even the most rational of people to become irrational. I'm sure there were Patriots fans yesterday that were watching their Pats get handled fairly easily by the Browns (and the Belichick-hated Eric Mangini) and were shouting at the TV angry with Belichick's coaching because they were losing 34-14. Belichick is arguably the greatest coach in NFL history; he's at least top-five though. The point is that all fans are irrational in the heat of the moment. These emotions, even in us fans, are what make sports so great. One minute you can be watching your favorite team trailing by two touchdowns with four minutes left and the next minute they've tied the game and are headed to overtime. When people are upset in the heat of the moment and aren't rational, I understand it. I rarely agree with these people and often find myself defending someone I really don't want to be defending, but I do understand where the irrationality comes from. Sometimes it's Ron Gardenhire, sometimes it's Bill Smith, but more often than not it's Brad Childress.

I don't want to defend Brad Childess. Of all the people that currently have anything to do with any of my favorite teams, Childress is by far my least favorite person. Aside from several poor in-game coaching decisions over the years, Childress seems to have worse people skills than Hannibal Lecter. He's got a huge ego, and there's no doubt he believes that he truly is a great coach. He obviously isn't. Once he released Randy Moss, my favorite athlete of all-time, I turned to the 'fire Childress now' camp and I had no plans on defending him ever again.

His fourth and goal calls have been brutal, but the hypocrisy of many fans today was laughable. Adrian Peterson had been given the ball every time they went for it on fourth and goal from inside the 3-yard-line all year, and he had been stopped all three times. Every time fans complained and said things like "Don't give it to AP you're too predictable!" at their TV's directed towards Brad Childress. Then today these same people were angry when the team decided to throw it, wondering aloud why they didn't give the ball to their best player to gain half a yard. Don't worry, if you were one of these people, you weren't alone. Facebook statuses, text messages, phone calls---I talked to several people who were being hypocritical. I understood it, though. The failed fourth down seemed like it was going to be the final nail in the coffin for the team's season. It wasn't, and nobody seems to remember that point of the game.

First, and foremost, this win is not all that impressive. Yes, the team looked absolutely sensational during the final four minutes of regulation and overtime. That was impressive, and it was about time some of the key players on this team stepped up when it was necessary. However, the team was playing a very mediocre Arizona team that doesn't have an NFL, starting-quality quarterback. Mistake after mistake hurt the Vikings until the last four minutes, and a game that really shouldn't have been all that close went into overtime. Yes, technically, it saved the season. The Vikings still have a chance at the playoffs, especially in a very tight NFC that has yet to really see a team pull away from the field. But if the team doesn't win at Chicago next week and then again at home against Green Bay, the season is likely still over. So this win was a small step in the right direction, but if they don't take care of business over the next few weeks it will ultimately be meaningless.

Now, after the game, Brad Childress was asked how he was holding up emotionally with everything that has happened this week, including his job security being talked about all week. Childress made what was a pretty good joke; he simply said "I'm not gonna stand up here like Brett and say I need a hug. I'm fine." Some members of the media went crazy. I saw Tony Dungy react* during NBC's Football Night in America, and it angered me. Pro Football Talk had a story about it within hours of the game ending.

*Tony Dungy is a great man. He was a good not great coach who couldn't carry a solid Tampa Bay team far enough. He lost his job, the Bucs traded multiple draft picks for Jon Gruden and he led them to a Super Bowl victory. Dungy latched on in Indianapolis with the best quarterback in football and arguably in the history of the NFL and managed to win one finally. However, the more I see him discussing other coaches/players/etc the more I want to see someone hit him in the face. He doesn't deserve to be hit in the face; but that's the feeling I get. He ALWAYS is talking like he's so much better than everyone else in football. He criticized Rex Ryan for swearing too much on Hard Knocks. Mr. Dungy, are you JOKING? Just because you chose not to swear often (if at all) doesn't mean Rex Ryan is wrong in the way he goes about coaching his football team. Dungy was the EXCEPTION, not the rule. Every football coach at pretty much every level swears. It's not a big deal.

The media seemed to think Childress took an unwarranted shot at Brett Favre. Look, the timing of the joke was idiotic. Nobody besides maybe a few local media guys are backing up Childress, and since the media always defends Brett Favre (even when he sends text messages to a 24-year-old woman while married with children) Childress had to know a joke about Favre wouldn't go over well.

I for one enjoyed the joke. Favre is tough as nails, no doubt, but he seems to have a NEED for everyone to know just how tough he is. The announcers during the game kept talking about Favre's foot and how painful it looked in the pre-game meetings players have with the announcers usually on Friday's. I kept wondering how they had seen his foot though; it likely was covered by a shoe, or a boot or something considering it was cold in Minnesota all week. Nope. Favre went to the meeting in flip flops. I understand that some people will say he was just wearing flip flops because it's more comfortable on his foot/ankle, and while I'm not going to argue with that defense, there's no denying that Favre loves to build the drama. It seems more likely to me that Favre wore the flip flops to subtly show the announcers his foot, leading to them gushing about his toughness on Sunday.

Favre has whined all year about his age; how injured he is, etc. If Favre is going to continue to talk about all of his ailments in order to try to explain away his problems this year, than I hope he understands it's fair game for others to point out how often he does it. Childress should not have made a joke about Favre with all the tension surrounding this team, it was idiotic, yes. But the joke wasn't nearly the big deal the media is trying to make it, and now that the Vikings finally won a game the media needs to continue to build the drama.

Childress still needs to be fired at season's end, or even sooner**, and the way he treated the Moss situation will always be a major embarrassment for any Vikings fan. But don't start making non-stories into major stories simply because it'll bring you better ratings either on TV or the internet. The people that criticized Childress today for his comments are obviously much more qualified to talk about football for a living than me, and it would have been nice if after an impressive comeback but generally a poor showing that the media was talking about that instead of Childress' ultimately meaningless comments.

**As fans, we couldn't comprehend how Wilf would keep Childress over Moss this week. It's not that simple, though. I think Wilf is planning on firing Childress at the end of the season unless this team makes some miracle run back to the NFC Championship game. It sends a terrible message to this team's next head coach if the owner sides with a player who has a history of issues (Moss) over the team's head coach who also has final say over any roster moves. Wilf undoubtedly wants to build positive buzz around this team so he can get them a new stadium. The best way to do that aside from deep playoff runs is by hiring a big name coach. I think Wilf will fire Childress and look to hire either Bill Parcells in a VP-type role like he had in Miami, or he'll hire Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden. I don't think the Vikings go into the 2011 season without making a major coaching hire, and that hire would not be Leslie Frazier. Wilf is already planning for next year in my mind.**

It's much easier to be rational hours after the game, especially after a come from behind win. But Brad, just because I'm defending you for the misguided comments, I still hate you.

Update: Childress was jokingly referring to a joke Favre had made on Wednesday. That makes what he said even less of an issue, but I still expect most of the media to chastize Chilly for it. There's plenty of things that the media can criticize this pinhead for, just be fair and level-headed about it. Here's the link, the story is near the bottom of the article.