Childress’ Comments About Draft Pick Tavaris Jackson Has Ruffled Some Feathers At Alabama State

By Patrick Reusse
Updated: May 4, 2006

Reggie Barlow

Reggie Barlow

MINNEAPOLIS — There wasn’t anyone more excited than Reggie Barlow last Saturday, when the Vikings selected Alabama State quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in the second round of the NFL draft.

“First let me say that Tarvaris is an outstanding person,” Barlow said Wednesday. “He’s a dedicated football player. I’ve been calling out plays for him today, from the book they gave him when he was in Minnesota.”

Barlow was a record-breaking receiver for Alabama State. He was taken in the fourth round of the 1996 draft.

He was a receiver and a punt returner for five seasons with Jacksonville, one with Oakland and then two in Tampa Bay.

His final season was 2004. Coach Charlie Coe made room for Barlow on his Alabama State coaching staff in 2005 — naming him quarterbacks coach and moving Daryl Williams from that role to director of football operations.

Barlow was proud of Jackson’s progress, proud of the quarterback’s ability to become a rising draft prospect through the season, and he admitted that he was stung when he read the comments on Jackson by Vikings coach Brad Childress in his post-draft media session Sunday.

“When you see what you want at quarterback, you need to go get it,” Childress said. “That is exactly what I see with Tarvaris Jackson, a guy who is a piece of clay and has all the skills. …

“I think he is a sponge. You are talking about a guy that never had a coach there as a quarterback coach.

“So what can he do with coaching? He’s got the skills. What can he do with coaching?”

Barlow was asked about this Wednesday in a phone conversation and said: “The Vikings made it sound like he didn’t have any coaching down here. I would say to Childress, ‘Don’t drag us down like that.’

“This isn’t a junior high. We did run an offense where you do make reads. I don’t care what level you’re playing, when the quarterback is completing 65, 67 percent, there must be something in the offense that’s helping him.

“I did play eight years in the NFL. I do have some understanding of the game.”

Barlow paused. “I read that about Tarvaris not having a quarterback coach,” he said. “Next time you see Brad Childress, tell him some people in Alabama weren’t very happy with those comments.”

Barlow did find some humor in the idea spread by the Vikings that they were successfully clandestine with their interest in Jackson.

Fran Foley, now departed after a relationship with Zygi Wilf that lasted slightly longer than Eminem’s second marriage, said over the weekend that the Vikings had worked out Jackson under a “shroud of secrecy.”

In actuality, the Montgomery Advertiser, the hometown newspaper, reported on March 16 that the Vikings — in the persons of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and quarterback coach Kevin Rogers — would be at Alabama State that day to work out Jackson.

“We kept having teams call and say, ‘We want to come in and work out Tarvaris, but we don’t want anyone to know about it,’ ” Barlow said. “I would tell them, ‘We’ve already had five or six teams in here. Tarvaris isn’t a secret. Every team knows about him.’ ”

Barlow was informed during Wednesday’s conversation that Foley had been fired. “Was it because of the way the draft went?” he asked.

Answer: It had more to do with clashing with co-workers — most importantly, Childress.

“I’m not shocked,” Barlow said. “Fran was in Jacksonville when I was there. He’s a little different. There’s an air about him.”

Barlow said he drew heavily on his experiences with Brad Johnson (a Super Bowl-winning teammate) in Tampa Bay and Rich Gannon in Oakland in working with Jackson last season.

“We went through a lot of tape together on those two,” Barlow said. “I would point out things they did, reads they made, that could help Tarvaris.

“I think it’s great for him that he’s going to be working behind Brad Johnson in Minnesota. He is a tremendous teammate … one of my all-time favorite players.”