View Full Version : Childress: Steward of change

09-10-2006, 08:32 AM
Posted on Sun, Sep. 10, 2006

Steward of change (http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/sports/15476901.htm)

Brad Childress' emphasis on winning with class impressed Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, who is intent on improving the team's character after several off-field incidents in recent years.

Pioneer Press

During his brief remarks in front of hundreds of fans and sponsors at the Vikings' kickoff gala Tuesday night, owner Zygi Wilf paid homage to the club's past and presented hope for the future.

"We want to build on the winning traditions of the past and to run a first-class organization," Wilf said. "And of course, to bring a world championship to Minnesota."

Class. Wilf concluded his speech reiterating that the Vikings would show it. Character. In an interview three days later, Wilf told the Pioneer Press that, to be successful, you need players who exude it.

Class and character are watchwords with Wilf — words not usually associated with a team that became linked to ticket scalping, the Love Boat and the Whizzinator. He wants that to change. Demands it, really. So the second-year owner wanted to overhaul the roster and culture at Winter Park, and he wanted a new steward of change for his head coach.

Wilf handpicked Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress in January to be the man most responsible for the Vikings' reputation. With a bevy of options, Wilf zeroed in on Childress and hired him five days after the Vikings' 2005 season finale.

"After talking to him, we felt the philosophy that he embodied toward football and the team was something we admired and fit the philosophy in our running of our business," Wilf said. "We felt it was important, once we realized that, to go after him."

The Vikings are hoping Childress will be the man who can take the team back to where legendary coach Bud Grant had it, back to the Super Bowl for the first time in three decades. He has been there a lot more recently than the Vikings have, helping coach Andy Reid take the Eagles there two seasons ago.

Childress also was a successful assistant at the University of Wisconsin during the '90s. The Badgers played in five bowls and won two Rose Bowls during his tenure there. At age 50, he now has his first chance to be a head coach on any level.

Wilf said he appreciated Childress' success at Wisconsin and in Philadelphia, as well as his ability to communicate with everyone in the organization.

"We know it's going to take some time," Wilf said, "but we feel that all the steps that we're taking are in the right direction. We hopefully will see immediate results, both off the field and on the field."

Hall of fame Vikings safety Paul Krause complimented Childress on the way he has conducted business thus far.

"He's trying to get his type of football player," Krause said. "If he can go out there and get his type of football player, and prove that's the way to do it, I think that's fate, because that's what Bud did."

Dogged in his effort to maximize this opportunity, Childress trusts in the details — and in his past. He has called upon close friends and past colleagues to join him here, and he has recruited others he has long admired.

Through it all, Childress said he's thankful to the Wilfs for their support.

"I feel like Zygi and Mark have given us the resources and the ability to be able to procure personnel, and you appreciate that," Childress said. "It's just not a willy-nilly deal. It's not (a matter of signing) everybody that's out there. It's if they fit what we do offensively or defensively. From that standpoint and through the draft, I feel like, yeah, we've been able to get the people we wanted."

Tight end Jim Kleinsasser said he got along with his two previous coaches, Dennis Green and Mike Tice, but he has noticed sturdier leadership inside the organization under Childress.

"Sometimes, you get crossed signals with the way things were structured," said Kleinsasser, a 1999 second-round draft pick who ranks behind only center Matt Birk in tenure among current Vikings. "But this is Brad's team, and he's the go-to guy, and he's the guy who's going to make the decisions and lay down the law around here."

Yes, the Vikings endured embarrassing moments during training camp involving since-released receiver Koren Robinson (who was charged with driving while intoxicated after a high-speed chase) and safety Dwight Smith (who received a citation for indecent conduct). But Childress has made an impact on the makeup of this team. Of the 56 players on the active roster and injured reserve, 23 are new to the team.

"It's no secret," Birk said. "He has stressed he wants good people who are good football players. I think, over the course of the season, there's a lot of ups and downs. If you're doing things the right way, and you've got right-way guys, you're going to be able to endure the bumps in the road."

Sean Jensen can be reached at sjensen@pioneerpress.com.

09-10-2006, 09:14 AM
"We know it's going to take some time," Wilf said, "but we feel that all the steps that we're taking are in the right direction. We hopefully will see immediate results, both off the field and on the field."

This is one reason your seeing the type of players being brought in that you see, rather than bigger name players that have character or have had off-field issues.