Randy Moss is a great football player. But, Randy Moss does not need football, as much as football needs a guy like Randy Moss. Making these statements come together in unity is very difficult to do, and it has been since Moss first stepped into the pro ranks. His past off-field exploits and his on-field antics are well known. His lack of respect for the NFL office is legendary, and grew even larger this week. So, with that being said, every team who chooses to take on the product that is Randy Moss accepts his baggage and at NO TIME can say they did not know what was in the box before they opened it.
Originally signed to attend college at Notre Dame, a fight at the end of high school, leading to a criminal conviction, changed his plans. Notre Dame no longer wanted him, so he went to Florida State, where all good criminal student-athletes go. While attending there, he breached his parole and even they kicked him out. Finally, he was allowed to transfer to Marshall University. There he dominated and set almost a dozen NCAA Division 1-AA records. He caught at least one touchdown in every game in his final year there. It was expected he would go as a high draft pick in 1998, but ended up drafted 21st overall in 1998 by the Minnesota Vikings. Almost every team that passed him over needed a quality wide receiver, but they did not want to deal with his off-field issues. Over the years, Moss has made it a point to dominate in any game that involves those teams.
After the unexpected implosion of a very talented Vikings team in the 2004 season, he was traded to the hapless Oakland Raiders in the off-season. He signed the largest deal ever for a wide receiver. But, the Raiders continued their miserable play even with Moss in the fold, racking up his stats. Injuries and his attitude started to catch up to him, so the ownership, as well as the coaching staff decided it might be a good idea to “shop Moss around.” Finding little interest in Denver, Green Bay and Dallas, Moss landed in New England with Head Coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady in 2007. That season, Moss broke the all-time NFL season touchdown record as the Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season, eventually losing in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
2008 and 2009 were both huge seasons for Moss statistically. Even with an injured Brady on the bench for all of 2008, he was at or near the top of all wide receiver categories. 2009 was no different and the Patriots always looked good when Brady-to-Moss was the makeup. However, by the start of the 2010 season, quiet mumblings that Moss was feeling “no longer wanted” by the Patriots emerged. Still with a hefty pay weight on the Pats salary cap, and after a lower than normal total of catches through the first four games, he was traded back to the Vikings, for a third round draft pick in 2011. As soon as he left though, Randy became Randy again.
Yesterday’s abrupt news of his release by the Vikings in his second tour of duty there, a mere three weeks after a much questioned deal with the New England Patriots has seemingly stunned the football world. I’m not sure why. It is a loud statement about the sad state of affairs in Minnesota right now. The team is a joke, bordering on a circus sideshow. All that’s missing is Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, and a bearded lady. Nothing happening there should be a surprise. There are no set rules across the board because one player feels he is above the rest. The players are not held accountable for anything. They have a ‘coach’ who had lost all control of his locker room before the season even began. The patients are running the hospital there now. The quarterback is a 41-year-old drama-loving egomaniac who has to have the spotlight directed on him at all cost. If the team wins, it was because Favre led them to a great victory. If they lost, it was because Brett was hurt. The post-game news had to be about him, and if “this is finally the injury that will end his streak of starting games.” Nothing in Minnesota is about the Vikings team; it is all about Brett Favre.
Randy Moss, as a player and person, no longer requires creating, or even being around the drama. His attitude changed a great deal under the guidance of Belichick. Over the past couple of seasons, he has matured and grown as a player, and a human being. All he wants is to play football and win with his team. Having quality people around him and team mates that share that common goal of helping the team win the Super Bowl is his desired situation. That environment welcomed Moss, and it is an environment he requires to survive. Moss had nothing bad to say about the Patriots organization after the trade back to the Vikings. He was fined another $25,000 because he refused to answer any more questions about that deal. In fact, during his last “press-conference/statement to the media” he was wearing a Boston Red Sox cap. That was a blatant shot at Minnesota. He was not pleased about being dealt, but knew the business.
Randy Moss doesn’t need football, but I feel football needs a guy like him. The league can portray him as the troubled player who now does good work. He can now be the poster boy for all that can come from a “bad-boy” player who joins a well-operated, classy organization, works hard, has good people surrounding him, sets high and achievable goals, and finds unbelievable success. No, Randy Moss doesn’t need football. He has enough money to take care of himself, his girlfriend, and their four children. He has plenty of time in the off-season to work with the different charities he has set up over the past couple of years to help people in his home state of West Virginia.
Leaving the quiet, team-oriented, properly controlled environment provided by the Patriots and more importantly, Coach Belichick, played a great deal into what happened yesterday. Belichick’s firm but helping hand kept Moss from getting out of control, personally and professionally. His incredible physical abilities and instincts kept the ball going to him for more touchdowns. In my opinion, Randy did not want to leave the Patriots. He enjoyed his time there. He was with similar minded people; people who went to work each day striving towards a common team goal. He was among winners. Nothing in the Patriots camp is ever about one specific person. Because as we all know, there is no I, in New England.