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Vikings’ ship sinking fast


Moss mess latest event in team’s fall from grace

MINNEAPOLIS – Brad Childress and the Minnesota Vikings have another big mess on their hands.

Randy Moss’ abrupt departure was just the latest in what has been a season long on drama and short on success for a 2-5 team that started with Super Bowl aspirations.

From Brett Favre’s late arrival to training camp, through an NFL investigation into improper messages allegedly sent by the quarterback a few years ago and now with Moss’ release, the Vikings have been plagued by distraction and their season is in danger of spinning completely out of control.

“Every time I come to work I see the news trucks sitting out there,” linebacker Ben Leber said. “I feel like something is going on. I roll in and keep my ears open.”

It all started with another summerlong courtship of Favre, who again considered retirement after leading the Vikings to the NFC title game in January. Childress sent three of his highest-profile players to Favre’s home in Mississippi in August to convince the gray-haired quarterback to make one more run.

Favre has struggled on and off the field this season. His 69.8 quarterback rating ranks 29th in the NFL and he has thrown 11 interceptions after being picked off just seven times last season.

He is also in the middle of a league investigation into allegations that he sent a game-day hostess inappropriate messages while both worked for the New York Jets in 2008.

Then Childress, with injuries to Pro Bowl receivers Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, sent a third-round draft pick to New England on Oct. 6 for Moss, a player with a long history of clashing with management and coaches.

“Pull out your number 84 jerseys, man,” Moss said at the time to a euphoric Vikings fan base. “I think this is going to be a fun ride.”

More like a stunningly brief one. This ride didn’t last much longer than an inexperienced cowboy atop a prized rodeo bull, and it may have inflicted just as much damage.

The latest headline-grabbing incident has put Childress in the crosshairs. Owner Zygi Wilf declined to comment through a team spokesman and there is speculation that the coach, despite signing a five-year extension last season, could be in trouble if things continue to crumble.

Childress has not seen eye to eye with Favre for much of the past two seasons, and Harvin became the latest player to question the game plan when he remarked about the lack of halftime adjustments on Sunday in the 28-18 loss to New England.

The clumsy way the Moss ordeal unfolded has only increased the criticism.

Childress spoke to reporters on Monday afternoon, but did not mention his intention to cut Moss during an extended discussion of the receiver’s performance.