With the scrutiny on Brad Childress at an all-time high, it appears the Minnesota Vikings coach can't even kid about Brett Favre anymore without causing a stir.
When Childress mentioned that Favre needed a hug in his postgame news conference following Minnesota's overtime win over Arizona on Sunday, he was making a joke and not taking a shot at the quarterback who led the amazing comeback.
After the Vikings rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Cardinals 27-24 in overtime, Childress was asked if he wanted any assurances from owner Zygi Wilf that he would keep his job through the season.
"No, I'm not going to stand here like Brett Favre and tell you, compassionate, I need a hug," Childress said. "I'm all right."
Taken out of context, it would appear that Childress was jabbing his 41-year-old quarterback just minutes after Favre threw for a career-high 446 yards and led two touchdown drives in the final five minutes of regulation to push the game into overtime.
Analysts on NBC's pregame show criticized Childress for making the remark and several national media outlets and blogs jumped on it, using it as more evidence of the frayed relationship between the coach and the quarterback.
What those folks didn't realize, however, was that Childress was jokingly referring to Favre's answer to a question on Wednesday.
While questions about Childress' job were swirling following his abrupt release of receiver Randy Moss, Favre was asked at his weekly press conference if Childress was a "compassionate" coach.
"Is he compassionate as in give us a hug or something?" Favre asked with a wry grin. "Boy, I sure could use one, too. But he hasn't given me one."
Favre chuckled after the answer, drawing laughter from a throng of reporters in one of the few light-hearted moments during a challenging week at team headquarters.
Childress and Favre have both acknowledged that they don't always see eye-to-eye on the game plan, the playcalling or the direction of the offense. The two have butted heads in the past, and Childress raised eyebrows earlier this season for his public criticism of Favre following a three-interception performance at Green Bay.
"Do I always get along with my head coach, quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator? No," Favre said after leading his 46th come-from-behind victory. "Do I always agree with the plays that were called? No. Why should that factor in to me wanting to be the best player I can be?
"Whether Brad is the head coach or not, that should never change the way you approach it."
Childress also clashed with receiver Percy Harvin on Friday over some medical tests that Childress wanted done on Harvin's left ankle. The two cleared the air before the game, but that only added to doubts about Childress' job status.
Wilf declined to address Childress' job security before or after the game. But the owner was jubilant with his team after the victory, commending their collective heart and effort to overcome such a big deficit.
"I can definitely disagree with some of his decisions, and I'm sure he disagrees with some of the things that I do," said running back Adrian Peterson, who had 144 total yards and two touchdowns. "But you've got to be able to overlook that, know that it's a business. You've got to consider that and know that ultimately at the end you've got to still have the same goal in mind."