By Tony Grossi
The Morning Kickoff …
He finally made it to Cleveland: At the 2004 Super Bowl, two assistant coaches vied for the last remaining NFL head coach vacancy – Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress. It didn’t matter who won the game. The Browns were going to hire Crennel, win or lose.
Prior to the game, Childress knew this was so. He had interviewed with Browns owner Randy Lerner and President John Collins, but had not heard from them after they hired Phil Savage as general manager. Crennel was interviewed with Savage on board.
Three days before the Super Bowl between the Eagles and Patriots, Childress said of the Browns’ job, “I believe Randy was going to select the coach, probably with Phil's blessing or two cents worth. He may ask some football questions that weren't important to Randy and John.”
And so it came to pass. Crennel was named Browns coach the day after the Patriots won, 24-21. Childress stayed another season as Eagles coordinator and then got the head job at Minnesota for the 2006 season. In four seasons, the Vikings had a record of 36-28 and two playoff appearances under Childress, earning him a contract extension through 2013. But after a 3-7 record in Year Five, Childress was fired.
Childress’ overall record as a head coach (40-37) easily outshone Crennel’s in Cleveland (24-40). But Crennel got a second chance as head coach with Kansas City this year. And now Childress is settling in as offensive coordinator under Pat Shurmur, with whom he worked for seven seasons under Andy Reid at Philadelphia.
In the first of a two-part interview, Childress talked about his decision to join the Browns after sitting out the 2011 season and collecting the Vikings’ paychecks. His extension reportedly netted Childress between $4.5 million and $5 million a year through 2013.
Why did you take a year off?
“It was probably a combination of things. No. 1, I haven’t had a year off after 33 years of being on the sideline. I was committed to making sure that I work with people I knew. I had the luxury of being able to. People I trusted. I think that was huge at this stage where I’m at in my life. Obviously I know Pat forward and backward, I know Mike (Holmgren) and I know Tom Heckert. There’s no quarantees in this business, but it’s important to work with good people.”
Did the Browns offer you the coordinator job last year?
“We talked. I talked to Pat when he got the job. I was never offered anything here. But I talked to Pat the whole time I was with Minnesota.
Who calls the plays is a big thing here with fans. Did you? Will you?
“I did it the first year (with Minnesota) and then turned it over to my offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who’s at the Seahawks now and was my college quarterback. I kind of coached that guy.
Shurmur says he’ll do it here. Obviously, you’re OK with that?
“I don’t think there’s any magic to it. I think some guys enjoy doing it. I know how Andy did it in Philadelphia. He’d say, ‘Hey Brad, get a series ready.’ If you don’t feel like you’re particularly attacking it in the right vein, it’s always different because people are on different paths the way they’re thinking. So it was a great changeup. I know he did it with Marty (Mornhinweg) that way and Marty does a lot of it now.”
Will you be on the field or up in the booth?
“I was downstairs sending plays to Donovan (McNabb) for about the first four years and then when I became the coordinator I went upstairs. I could talk and see a bigger picture. I believe so, yeah (he’ll do it that way here).”
You’re only 55. Surely you want a second chance at being an NFL head coach?
“Been there, done that. If it happens, it happens. It’s so refreshing to me … I used to always wonder why Andy wasn’t in the room in the red zone meeting. I get it. You can come in the building and say I have to get these five things done, and you can be going 180 degrees the other way in about two minutes. So it’s so refreshing for me to get back to the Xs and Os football part. If it happens, it happens. It ain’t fun (getting fired).”
Is it in your consciousness to do it again?
“My consciousness is to get this offense up to speed as far as we can and help the Cleveland Browns win ballgames. That’s all our single-minded purpose.”
Coming up: In Part Two posted this afternoon, Childress talks about Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson and his hopes of improving the Browns offense.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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