METAIRIE, La. -- The Vikings just won't let it go.
"[Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams'] defenses have always been aggressive. We were able to face them for a number of years when we were with the Eagles when he was with Washington," Childress said. "It's always been a storm the castle type of approach. ... I understand a quarterback's going to get hit, people are going to get hit. It's football. I don't have any illusions about that. What I hate to see are late hits or attempts to hurt anybody. I don't think there's a place for that in the game."
When asked on a follow-up question if he wondered if Williams and the Saints were out to hit Favre late or attempts to hurt Favre, Childress couldn't have been more clear cut.
"Yes, I would have to say that. Yes," Childress said.
Add something else Favre and Childress don't see eye to eye on.
"Do you know what my response is? It's football," Favre said. "Sean Payton and I are good friends. I talked to him several days after the game and said, great win for you guys. A win's a win. In a roundabout sort of way, every defense wants to get the opposing quarterback out and that's just the way it is.
"Had that been us and say we played Drew [Brees] here and we were able to hit him like that and we sure would have been saying, great. I wish we had won the football game. I'm not so concerned about how we lost it. It's physical. It's football. I'm not going to get caught up in that."
The fact that Childress remains fixated on the dirty play theory probably has Williams and his players feeling they've won the mind game days before the NFC title game rematch in Thursday's NFL regular season opener. Williams never has apologized, and probably never will, about the fervor in which the Saints attacked Favre during last season's game.
"A defense has to be respected," Williams said. "They'll be respected when they're feared. None of the things we're trying to do is cheap. They're aggressive. What we're going to do is play hard. We're not going to apologize. I'm not going to apologize for how my guys play and I'm not going to apologize. When the other team is worried about protecting themselves or protecting the ball, we all like that a lot better. Maybe there will be more than 39 takeaways this year. We have to do that.
"Some of the best defenses of all time [did that]. I remember growing up and looking at that [Pittsburgh Steelers] 'Steel Curtain' defense, guys that didn't have teeth, guys that we're playing there. You look at the way Jack Tatum played and the way he played when he was with the Oakland Raiders. You look at the way Buddy Ryan played with all those great defenses [that] had an intimidation factor about them. There are some things we've done here. That's what we're trying to build here, but I don't think we've played tough enough or aggressive enough yet."
That's the kicker, Williams wants the Saints defense to be more aggressive than it was last season.
|'I'm not going to back them off in any way,' Gregg Williams says. (Getty Images)|
Don't think the Saints are ignoring Williams' message.
When asked how a conversation between Williams and Childress would go down, Saints defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove said, "I can't say that live. If I was Gregg and Childress came up to me and said not to hit our quarterback, I'd say 'Sorry, go play somebody else.'"
Here's good food for thought dropped on Twitter on Tuesday by Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders: The Saints were penalized five times for roughing the passer penalties, while the Vikings were flagged 12 times for the same penalty.
So who's actually dirty, and what constitutes being a dirty player?
"I think dirty is when a player's back is turned and you happen to cut him and he's paying no attention," Saints defensive tackle Remi Ayodele said, who was the high hitter in the high-low hit on Favre that many view as the dirty hit that injured Favre. "You know, hitting someone in the back of the helmet. Not when you're rushing the quarterback. I mean if you're rushing the quarterback, you're being aggressive.
"I thought our defense did that every game. A 'remember me' shot when you're there. You don't want to hurt another player. I just think that it was taken out of proportion because it was Favre that game. But if you look back on the rest of the games, it was kind of the same deal. It's just playing football. Nobody wants to hurt another player. But like I said, it's a physical game."
Ayodele said he never was fined for any hit by the league last year. ["That's because I'm not a dirty player," he said.] Receiving a fine from the NFL isn't the worry, though. Being chewed out by Williams is. Ayodele and Will Smith both said the continued chatter from Childress is in hope that it alters the officials' viewpoint of this week's game.
"We're going to play how we play. That's up to the ref. ... We're tough to be physical and be a physical team," Ayodele said. "When we hit the quarterback, you make the quarterback know that it's a 'remember me' shot. It's the NFC Championship Game. You're rushing the quarterback. Do you want us to ease up and then he completes the pass and then he throws a touchdown? You're trying to, you know, lay one on him."
Smith said one can't respond to Childress' comments, and then he responded anyway.
"Everybody knows that that's nonsense. ... We played like that all year and we didn't hear anybody else complaining about it. It's just the nature of the game," Smith said.
Everyone knows Favre isn't the same since facing the Saints of last season. No one likely will take more offense to what happened to Favre than the Vikings defensive linemen. You know the likes of Jared Allen, Pat Williams and Kevin Williams will be foaming at the mouth to retaliate and that Drew Brees will be the target.
And Brees sure is no dummy. He knows it's coming. He made sure, though, to emphasize what type of hit he's OK with.
"If you play defense in this league, you love to take a shot at the quarterback, a legal clean shot, albeit, you hit him as hard as you can," Brees said. "I would expect nothing less from those guys when they try to get a legal, clean shot on me to hit me and hit me hard."
Saints left guard Carl Nicks said they'll be ready for what's coming at them.
"To be honest they've got one of the best defensive fronts in all of the NFL," Nicks said. "So you've got to be wary regardless. When they have a chip on their shoulder, that's even worse. So we treat them with the utmost respect like in that every play they want to hit the quarterback. I don't know if we're talking about dirty stuff, but they possibly could. So you've got to prepare for that."
Dirty or not.