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Monday, April 30, 2007

That Is A DISGUSTING Act... But Boy Do I Love It    

The further I get from the initial shock, the more I love the Randy Moss trade.  I am now, officially, pumped about football.  (What's-a-kay Matsu-who-za?  Never heard of him.)

My immediate reaction upon seeing news of the trade was reservation.  Well, not quite... since Moss' most likely word-association-game hits are "lazy," "selfish," "underachieving," "mari-ja-wana," and "quitter," my very first reaction was the word "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO," give or take a few O's.  But ten minutes later, not only was I on board, I stood sat in awe of how obviously fantastic the move is.  I even giggled this morning.  The Pats' acquisitions had already been the big story of the NFL offseason, but this is the throat-slashing maneuver that earns them a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration.  It is an absolute masterstroke.

From a football perspective, there is no questioning this deal.  Moss is the best deep ball receiver in NFL history.  He's tall, he's fast (rumors aswirl that he posted a 4.29 40 time for Bill Belichick over the weekend), he's got great hands, and he's got perfect field presence.  Even when he's half-assing it, which is frequently, he still commands double-teams.  He's never failed for a talented quarterback, and I don't see that being any different with Brady.

Further, there's no pressure.  The media will manufacture some, but I doubt we're going to see anyone bitching that losses are, somehow, Moss' fault.  Which is great for Moss.  All the hard work has been done, so he just has to catch balls and cash in next offseason.  Everybody wins.

The part that pisses off so many people is his character.  He is definitely pretty weak in that regard.  He's been a guy whose play on the field is a direct reflection of his happiness off the field.  He appears unwilling to elevate bad teammates.  He's admitted to taking it easy on occasion.  He's far from the prototypical superstar, at least in terms of his persona and aura.  And that makes people crazy.

But that's basically the "if I were making $X million, I would stop smoking weed" line of thought.  Yeah, sure you would.  He's being judged against potential more than reality.  They see that he breaks records while half-assing it, and wonder why he's not doing more.  That's all well and good, but that's pretty unfair.  He seems to be doing just fine without behaving himself like a librarian.

I also think a lot of the flak he catches comes from losing, from being on bad teams.  That's not going to be a problem anymore.  Will he need to STFU?  Absolutely.  Will his petulant, immature tendencies be tolerated?  Absolutely not.  But he doesn't need to find Jesus, he doesn't need to see therapists, and he doesn't even need to give up weed.  He's got nothing to publicly apologize for, like a DUI or a sexual assault or something really serious like that.

In fact, when I refreshed my memory this afternoon, I was surprised by how little indefensible stuff he's done.  It's mostly just weed and laziness.  If I may put on my apologist's hat and recap his transgressions:

  • Beat up a racist West Virginian piece of shit.  Give his ass a damn medal.
  • Hits from the bongggggg!  Right, who cares?
  • Admitted to playing lazy on occasion.  Which makes him candid more than evil.
  • Won a bizarre showdown with a meter-maid who thought she was a lady cop.  He wanted to pull a U-ie, she got in front of him.  The meter maid was actually disciplined for her role in the ordeal.  Nobody looked good here, but this is the worst thing on the list, and it's pretty much inconsequential.
  • Pretended to moon a bunch of fans who did some actual mooning three hours earlier.
  • Squirted water on a ref.  Anyone really think the referee is totally innocent?
  • Quit on the Vikings and Raiders and stopped performing at his best.  (Which makes him... a Viking and Raider.)  The infamous Redskins game became a media problem more than anything.
To reiterate... no rape, no DUI, no wife-beating that I could find.  What I see is that he got kicked out of Florida State and Notre Dame for stupid shit, and it's haunted him ever since.  Given some forgiveness from Lou Holtz and Bobby Bowden, two of the most indefensible assholes alive, maybe none of the rest of this crap becomes such a big deal.  Because it's always been the "history" of transgressions with Moss.  Never the individual acts, always the running total.  But believe me, if you think I'm going to side with Notre Dame, Florida State, meter maids, referees, West Virginians, the Packers, taskmasters and teetotalers against a candid guy like Randy Moss, you're in for a surprise.

Let's also recognize that Moss has never, ever played for a real football team.  How can any of us predict what Moss will do for a guy like Bill Belichick, and a franchise like the Patriots, when he's never been in anything remotely close to that context?  Maybe he'll take to one of the NFL's model franchise like a horse to water.  We don't know, but we do know he finished an answer in yesterday's press conference by saying "I can't believe I'm a Patriot," after having given up about $18 million worth of contract to make the deal happen.  Does that sound like the prototypical narcissistic malcontent to you?  I know better than to put too much stock in media quotes, but Moss has never been much of a bullshitter.  In fact, it's his candor that has helped get him into so much trouble so often.

The worst you can say is that he should know better than to let the media get involved in his stupid shit.  Not only can you say that about EVERY football player caught doing anything, but the Pats have already locked down the media in New England.  Unless he does some stage-diving, Moss is safe.  Like the on-field issues, the Pats have that stuff taken care of on their own.  So I'm not worried about that.

In conclusion, this looks like the ideal situation for everyone.  Randy Moss gets one more chance to stick it in America's face, and I suspect Randy Moss wants to do that as much as I want to see it.  Hence my optimism.  Look out below, bitches.



  • Ask Ron Mexico how a the night with the flashy hooker turned out in the long run.

    My opinion is that Moss is just a big kid. He plays football like it's pickup ball. And he loves pickup ball. But when things don't go the way he wants, in any way, he's capable of saying "Shit, I'm going home for some Sunny D." Football isn't a job to him, it's just what he does when he's not puffing behind the bleachers.

    It's just going to feel weird to watch the Pats welcome a guy with no self control or willpower into a locker room that prides itself on being strong willed and businesslike.

    Honestly, I went through the same euphoria when the Iggles got TO. It worked for a year, and then turned into a total disaster. The team hasn't really been the same since. I think you're going to get the same result here, in some form or another.

    By Blogger Kabir, at 11:10 AM  

  • I thought about that. I do think there's plenty of potential for that to happen. As far as toxic WRs go, TO is #1 and Moss is probably #2.

    But the gap between them is orders of magnitude beyond the difference between #2 and, say, #100.

    There's plenty of room for Moss to screw up, no question. I'm just arguing that a) he and TO are in separate solar systems as far as bad influences go, and b) the Pats and Eagles are completely and totally different contexts. The only thing they really have in common is a position.

    1) TO complained about his WINNING teammates. He was unsatisfied with the role he'd played on a WINNING team. He was calling out McNabb and Garcia... good players at the time... when they were WINNING. He was actively, publicly, pinning responsibility on everyone but himself for what games were lost. To my knowledge, Moss has not yet done anything on that level. The worst he's done is taken plays off. He's capable of it, definitely, but I'm not seeing it on his resume.

    2) Brady and Belichick may not have that air of infallibility about them anymore, but that doesn't make them the complete opposite of what they used to be. I can safely say that they will not suddenly start taking shit from the likes of Randy Moss now. They do not NEED him in order to get over the hump or whatever, the way the Eagles NEEDED Owens. TO had Philly by the balls; it's the other way around between Moss and the Pats. Moss left a lot of money on the table, enough that if he makes one false move, he's gone. Like the Bill Cosby joke goes, they brought him into this world, and they can take him out.

    3) In a similar vein, TO angled for the trade while simultaneously grabbing a fat signing bonus. He had his cake and eating it too. Moss made a choice. He left something like $18 million on the table in order to make the trade happen. Huge difference.

    4) I don't believe Moss is being asked to play a leadership role, or put his stamp on the team or whatever. And I don't think he wants to. He's got no particular ambition, no hero complex or anything like that. I think he just wants to catch balls and get out of the way. TO, meanwhile, wants more than that. I think he'd be genuinely, deeply pissed, and jealous, if he won the Super Bowl but only caught three balls for 38 yards. He doesn't just want to win, he wants to be the story of why his team won.

    5) The vast majority of Randy Moss' reputation is related to stupid shit he did to himself. Weed, the meter-maid, the fight in high school. Not too bright, but nothing too far beyond Stupid Football Player Tricks. Meanwhile, the vast majority of TO's attitude problem is the result of his behavior while stone-cold sober. He is quite genuinely one of the most evil motherfuckers in sports, and in a way that everyone around him is affected. He's pulled at least three or four separate pre-meditated acts of cruelty towards people that I believe go well beyond what Randy Moss would ever pull. But the worst you can say about Moss on the field is that he underachieved for rotten teams. Well, gee whiz, the line starts way back there.

    Basically, I think Moss' rep is overblown. That his transgressions, while far from ideal or respectable, aren't as significant to the on-field product or team mood as TO's are. That the nature of his selfishness isn't nearly as sinister. Moss has far more in common with Allen Iverson right now than he does with Terrell Owens.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 12:11 PM  

  • Jeff, yeah. I'm not sure that TO is actually so much more toxic than Moss overall, but this situation is not like the Philly one.

    I think your point #2 is the key, and the main reason I would not be worried if I were a Pats fan. I think this is a very low risk move for them, really, because Moss needs them more than they need Moss.

    The only question is whether or not he realizes, but the worst thing is you cut his ass midseason and teach all the other would-be whiners a lesson.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 6:16 PM  

  • I agree that the situations are different. And I actually hope you're right, since I like the Pats.

    Two things worry me still though:

    One is that Moss has never been able to make it through a season or two without alienating/angering teammates, coaches and fans. He just can't do it. He's going to fuck up, it's just a question of whether the Pats system can withstand the strain. And they may be able to, but still. Ick.

    Two is your third point:

    "In a similar vein, TO angled for the trade while simultaneously grabbing a fat signing bonus. He had his cake and eating it too. Moss made a choice. He left something like $18 million on the table in order to make the trade happen. Huge difference."

    While that may show that he's committed to winning, it could mean disaster down the road. Moss is a fickle primadonna, and when he starts feeling like he's a big part of whatever success the Pats have next year, he's going to want to get paid for it. TO may have gotten his bonus, but it was his want for a huge contract that ruined everything in the end. The fact that Moss GAVE UP money scares me- he's going to want it back. Especially scary considering Pats ownership would rather throw a fan appreciation day for Peyton than give an aging primadonna WR a huge cap-killing contract.

    Of course, if they win, it's genius. That's the botton line.

    By Blogger Kabir, at 10:22 AM  

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