It takes a long time, and then it happens very fast.
Brad Childress had been working as an offensive assistant in college football or the NFL more more than a quarter century, the last four of them as the offensive coordinator for a successful Eagles team.
He was 49 and hoping for a shot at being a head coach. Philadelphia's 2005 season ended on New Year's Day, a Sunday.
"I can remember, the last player had walked out of my office on the Monday after the game. I was getting in front of the guys after the season was finished," Childress recalled on Wednesday's Daily Delivery podcast. "Half an hour later, Zygi and Mark Wilf and Rob Brzezinski and Kevin Warren were on a conference call. They said, we want you to interview. I said, 'Look the guy just left my office an hour ago. What does tomorrow look like?' They said, 'Well we have a plane sitting for you right now. We'd like for you to get on that plane tonight'."
So Childress hustled home, took a shower, packed a bag, and left Philadelphia for the Twin Cities in the dead of winter. He arrived Monday night.
"The interview started at maybe 8:30 or 9 p.m. Central time," Childress said. "We talked until about 2:30 in the morning that first night and it continued to the next day. They said one caveat: Do you care if Bud Grant comes and sits in on the meeting. I was a little wide-eyed. That's like saying how about Vince Lombardi comes and watch your interview. But Bud was tremendous. He didn't say much. It was like E.F. Hutton. When he spoke everyone looked down at that end of the table and listened."
Childress was able to pull Grant aside to get his perspective on the Wilf family even though they were relatively new to each other.
"I think the thing you lose sight of is that you're interviewing with them for their job but at the same time ... you're getting ready to take a job and you want to know who you're throwing in with," Childress said.
What topics are covered in a coach interview? It's very wide-ranging, he said.
"Everything from family situation, your start in coaching all the way to how to select a roster, how many offensive lineman would you keep. How about gameday? Who should be in charge of personnel?" Childress recalled. "Enough where I had a book full of stuff to talk about. I handed out some pamphlets about who my potential staff would be. Then I had to collect the pamphlets because I didn't want them to have those unless I got the job."
But of course he did get the job. A few days later, he was formally introduced to the media as the new Vikings coach. Five years later, the process started again when he was fired.
"It's not fun, I'll tell you that," Childress said, recalling being fired in the middle of the 2010 season with the Vikings sitting at 3-7. "I was able to say to the Wilfs, guys you understand everything I ever did was in the interest of the Minnesota Vikings. Mark and Zygi were great about that. I talked to them about Leslie (Frazier) and presumed he would be the interim coach, where did he want to meet them – my office and did they want me to get out of there? … Then things come to a stop very quickly. It gets quiet very quickly. It's almost like you have the plague, you don't talk to people except your good friends who tell you get your head out of your rear end and that you're a good football coach."