- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS | Their bushy mustaches look about the same, and their approaches to building and organizing their teams are similar. Heck, most of the fans want them fired, too.

But Andy Reid and Brad Childress have different personalities and divergent styles, and this branch of the NFL’s coaching tree has several variations and twists.

“He’s maybe a little bit more, if you can imagine this, flatline than I am,” Childress said. “Hard for you to see that, right?”

The football staff at Northern Arizona University in 1986 spawned four future NFL coaches. The bond formed between Reid and Childress that season in Flagstaff and the high-scoring Big Sky Conference was strong enough that, 13 years later, Reid chose Childress as his offensive coordinator when he was hired to lead the Philadelphia Eagles.

Childress’ chance to be in charge at Minnesota came seven seasons later. He has guided the NFC North champion to a wild card game at the Metrodome on Sunday against Reid and his old team.

“Well, I wish I wasn’t seeing Brad in the first round,” Reid said, “but I am proud of him.”

Childress was the offensive coordinator at Northern Arizona; Reid was the line coach. Future NFL coaches Bill Callahan and Marty Mornhinweg, now Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator, were also assistants with the Lumberjacks that year. Reid cracked the NFL in 1992 with Mike Holmgren and the Green Bay Packers; he brought Childress with him to Philadelphia after his old buddy spent eight seasons running the offense at Wisconsin.

They’ve shared plenty of anecdotes and advice about coaching, and their families remain friendly. Despite their attempts to downplay the personal significance of this game, it’s surely a source of pride for them - especially considering the hurdles their teams have cleared to get here, as well as the public skepticism they’ve endured about their performance.

Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who spent four years on Reid’s staff, recalled Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson telling him he had “the greatest job in the NFL” because of the latitude and trust he had from the boss to lead the defense. Frazier said he feels the same way working under Childress.

Childress adopted much of Reid’s practice schedules, philosophies and routines, both during the season and not, and hired his head athletic trainer (Eric Sugarman) and strength and conditioning coach (Tom Kanavy) away from Philadelphia. The expertise of both coaches is offense; Reid was one of Brett Favre’s many quarterback coaches in Green Bay, and down the road in Madison, Childress was drawing up plays for Heisman Trophy-winning running back Ron Dayne.

The comparisons quickly turn to contrasts, though.

“Once you start talking about personal aspect, they are nothing like,” said Vikings offensive lineman Artis Hicks, who played four years for the Eagles. “They are night and day.”

Reid?

“He hardly talks. You’ve got to punch him, threaten him or do something to get him to say a couple of words,” Hicks said. “When he does talk, of course you take heed.”

Childress?

“He’s a psychology major, so he’s always challenging you,” Hicks said. “You can kind of get caught up in that fog and that haze, and it’s good to engage in a conversation where you have to be snapped out of it and be a thinking man for a change.”

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