|Brad Childress is no fan of Bill Belichick and the Patriots||10.25.10 at 11:48 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When the Patriots and Vikings meet Sunday at Gillette Stadium, it’ll be a game rife with storylines: The return of Randy Moss. The continuing drama surrounding Brett Favre. And the continued emergence of New England’s young players, including Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Jermaine Cunningham and Devin McCourty.
But one of the most underrated is the less-than-civil relationship between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Vikings coach Brad Childress. Childress has taken a few shots at New England over the years, so it was no surprise that Childress called the Patriots “some of the all-time great signal stealers” in a Monday afternoon press conference.
Childress’ answer was in response to a rather innocuous question about playing time for rookie defensive back Chris Cook against a New England passing attack led by Tom Brady, and whether or not the Patriots might try and exploit a matchup involving the youngster. The Vikings coach said New England would “probably” operate “by coverage,” and then referenced a 2006 Monday Night game between New England and Minnesota, a game where the Patriots crushed the Vikings in the Metrodome, 31-7.
In that contest, Brady was masterful, going 29-for-43 for 372 yards and four touchdowns.
“I’m mindful of the last time we faced them here on Monday Night Football, where it was like a surgical procedure,” Childress said. “That’s back when we used to signal and things like that. I remember having a conversation with [ex-Minnesota defensive coordinator] Mike Tomlin about [the fact that] these were some of the all-time great signal stealers. In fact, that’s what was going on — they were holding, holding, holding, holding. We were signaling from the sideline. And they were good at it. It’s like stealing signals from a catcher.”
Childress, who said his own teams would engage in some sign-stealing from time to time (at least before the communication devices were installed in the helmets of defensive players in 2008), said he knew what was going on from his time as an assistant with the Eagles, where he was quarterbacks coach (from 1999 to 2002) and offensive coordinator (from 2003 through 2005).
“I had a notion, having played them at the Eagles before,” Childress said. “It’s something we do as well. If it’s good for one, it’s good for the other. [But] we didn’t change it up. We didn’t use wristbands. We didn’t change the menu at halftime. They were good at that. And obviously you don’t need to give Tom [Brady] any added advantage.
“If you know that as a quarterback, that’s as good as you can do,” Childress added. “And they did as good as they could do.”
Childress’ latest statements are the latest in a series of verbal lobs he has directed at the Patriots over the last three years. It began in the days before the start of the 2007 season, when Childress claimed Belichick called to ask him not to claim tight end Garrett Mills, so New England could get him through to the practice squad. Childress even claimed that Belichick offered to avoid picking up a player the Vikings cut as a reward. Childress declined — the Patriots responded by claiming linebacker David Herron. Neither player had any sort of long-term impact with their new club, but it was enough to stir some bad blood.
“[Belichick] didn’t really care for that,” Childress told Minnesota’s WCCO-AM after everything went down. “He was trying to leverage, but you always find out who is honest and straightforward.”
(For what it’s worth, Belichick hasn’t been drawn in. In 2007, when asked about the Mills affair, he sounded indifferent. “I talked to a lot of people in the league over the course of the last few days,” he said. “That’s part of the whole process of player transactions and so forth. I’m sure that all of the coaches in the league are trying to get their team ready for opening day and the regular season, and I’m trying to do the same thing.”)
Things escalated in 2009 when Childress publicly crowed about the Vikings’ selection of Percy Harvin, telling reporters he beat New England when he took Harvin 22nd overall. (The Patriots were at No 23, but ended up trading down.)
“New England was right in there. They were right behind us [with the 23rd pick],” Childress later told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “No, they didn’t think we’d take him [because of off-the-field] issues. Remember, they have our receivers’ coach there now. So they thought they could hold … and he’d come to them. They were down there working him out the day after I was there. And [Harvin] wasn’t supposed to tell anybody, and I was trying to pull that out of him, who that was. So, it was a little cat-and-mouse game that occurred.”
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