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Vikings fire Childress; hire Frazier in interim

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Posted Nov. 22, 2010 @ 12:22 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

The Vikings announced Monday morning that they have fired head coach Brad Childress and promoted defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier to interim head coach.

The last straw apparently was Sunday's 31-3 loss to the Packers after a season of unmet expectations.

Vikings owner/chairman Zygi Wilf and Frazier will address the media at 4 p.m. ET Monday in the team's Winter Park fieldhouse. 

The season has been an unmitigated disaster almost from the start. Since losing to the Saints in the NFC championship game in January, expectations have run high with the majority of the team returning. Once the Vikings pursued QB Brett Favre — a move Childress supported initially last year and this year — anything short of a deep playoff run was going to be a disappointment.

Instead of a celebration, a circus ensued. The trouble and drama snowballed almost from the word "go" this summer.

Favre again wavered in his decision to come to Minnesota, and Childress was criticized for sending three players down to Mississippi and having his assistant coaches lie to the media about their whereabouts.

Sidney Rice, who was injured in the game against the Saints, delayed his hip surgery and missed games all the way up until his season debut in Sunday's loss. Percy Harvin missed significant time in the preseason with his migraine headaches.

The Vikings would lose in the opener to the Saints and then fall to 0-2. But excitement was raised when the Vikings traded for WR Randy Moss from New England for a third-round pick. He was expected to fill the void of Rice and help Harvin and Favre in the passing game. Favre especially was said to be happy because he always had wanted to play with Moss.

But the Vikings lost three of their four games with Moss, and he indirectly criticized Childress in a press conference after the loss to the Patriots. Moss called his former coach, Bill Belichick, the best coach in football and said how much he missed his old team. The next day, Childress informed his players that Moss would be cut — and did so before he informed ownership of his intentions. Childress had final say over the 53-man roster, but he was required to go through various channels, including Wilf, before he made significant moves.

Wilf reportedly was incensed with how Childress circumvented the process with the Moss move, and yet the owner continued to show his support, including after Week 10's loss at Chicago. But one week later there was no statement from Wilf, who appeared furious when he left the Vikings' locker room after the team fell to the Packers at home, 31-3. The Vikings were listless in the loss, and there were a few verbal altercations on their sideline. Favre was seen yelling at offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, and DE Ray Edwards was seen ripping into rookie CB Chris Cook.

Throughout their two years together, Favre and Childress had a stormy relationship, too. It began during last year's magic season, interestingly, as the two men disagreed about how the offense should be run. Childress was upset through the early part of 2009, and the two men had a sideline blowup in a loss to the Panthers. They were able to put aside their differences through the playoff run and even decided to rearrange their "marriage" this season.

But the honeymoon long was over. Reports this summer, in fact, suggested that Favre was wavering in his return not because of health concerns but that he was ambivalent about playing because of his relationship with Childress.

Favre was not alone in that sentiment. Over the past few weeks, sources have told PFW that many players believe that Childress did not support them properly and they had grown tired of his management style. Other than a singular voice of support from NT Pat Williams, few other Vikings spoke on Childress' behalf publicly as the coach's hot seat grew warmer.

Childress had a record of 40-37 over his 4½ seasons, including a 1-2 mark in the postseason.

Frazier is popular in the clubhouse and has interviewed for several head-coaching openings, including with the Bills and Seahawks this past offseason. Although Frazier's stop unit hasn't been as dominant this season as in recent years, the Vikings rank seventh in rushing yards per game allowed and sixth in first downs allowed per game.

The Vikings now will hand the job to Frazier and, like the situation in Dallas with Jason Garrett, Frazier could get the opportunity to earn the job on a full-time basis.

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