This season, what the Vikings lack in wins, they make up for with drama. Yes, just when it seems that the season can’t get any stranger, Vikings fans get the football equivalent of Joaquin Phoenix’s bizarre, bearded appearance on Letterman. And this latest one is a doozy.
Four games after signing Randy Moss the Minnesota Vikings have waived him—adios amigo and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. For their troubles the Vikings have lost a draft pick, three additional games, and, if the comments are any indication, the love of the fan base.
Sad considering the Moss/Vikings reunion had such promise. Randy Moss, one of the most incredible football talents ever, returning to where it all started so he could catch passes from Brett Favre—the Vikings’ season would be saved and it would be glorious. This didn’t appear to be a stretch because a deep threat seemed to be the missing piece that would get things rolling.
But after four games with the Vikings, the best you can say about the Randy Moss experiment is that the results were mixed. In his brief tenure with the 2010 Minnesota Vikings, Randy Moss had 13 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Moss’ presence on the field also returned a kind of balance to the offense, enabling Percy Harvin to return to the middle of the field where he’s been so effective. However, despite being with the organization that he supposedly felt residual fondness for because they drafted him in 1998, and despite getting to work with a quarterback he said he had wanted to work with, fans witnessed Moss, once again, giving up on plays and being a temperamental diva. Most recently, after drawing a pass interference penalty during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game at New England, Moss pulled up short and stopped running the route. The pass, that looked like it would have been a touchdown if Moss had continued to run the route, landed just out of his reach.
Following the New England game Moss had a strange, rambling press conference that was seen by many as the catalyst for Coach Brad Childress deciding to waive him. However, from some of the stories leaking out about Moss’ behavior at Winter Park, and from seeing that his habit of giving up on plays was still alive and kicking, it may be that the press conference, and Moss’ informing the team that he wouldn’t fly back from Foxboro with them, may have simply been the final straws.
On a team that’s winning, Randy Moss’ deep threat is icing on the cake. And Moss probably thought that’s what he was getting when he signed with the Vikings in the beginning of October. At that time the Vikings were 1-2, a record that, though not ideal for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, was hardly insurmountable. Four games later, the Vikings have gone 1-3 with Moss. As good as Moss can be on a winning team, his history shows that he can quickly become a toxic anathema on a losing team—for as much as it makes me cringe and wish I could spin this any other way, at 2-5, the Vikings are a losing team and Moss did not look happy.
Randy Moss is a rare talent. He has the kind of legendary ability that most wide receivers would give their left testicle to have. But, either by choice, aptitude, or nature, he does not do well with a losing team. If you want someone who will rally the troops to play for pride even when the game is lost, or to hold it together when things look bad, Moss probably isn’t your guy.
And that is a real shame, because with Brett Favre battered and facing an NFL investigation, it would mean a lot to the team to have someone like Moss step up.
Considering that the Vikings are putting up with Brett Favre for another season, you’d think that dealing with Randy Moss would be a cinch. Favre, after all, has enjoyed a different set of rules from the rest of the rank and file players, so what should make his brand of diva so much more tolerable than Randy’s? Well, for all his diva-esque antics, and they are legion, try to think of a time when Favre gave up on a play or didn’t take the credit for poor play upon himself. How many examples are there of Favre not taking practice, film study, and games seriously? I’m trying but I can’t think of any.
A lot has been made of Coach Brad Childress deciding he’d had enough of Randy Moss, but here’s something that I think bears noting that I haven’t heard anyone else mention yet. Childress is not a guy to admit to mistakes (i.e. Tavaris Jackson situation), so it makes me wonder how bad, how very critical and toxic he appears to have thought things were with Moss that he would essentially say, “My bad” and cut Moss lose in the middle of the season. If Childress didn’t think things were critical he could have just waited until the end of the year and made sure that the Vikings didn’t offer Moss a new contract. That’s been Childress’ method with other players he didn’t want on the team. So for Childress to suggest that Moss is such a detriment that he has to be released immediately even though it means admitting to making a mistake…well, that should say something.
If fans want to criticize Brad Childress, and we know they do, then criticize him for bringing Randy Moss back to Minnesota in the first place and raising our hopes that this season wouldn’t end in tears. It isn’t like Moss is new to the league or that his long history of bad behavior was a well-kept secret. Randy Moss is the same as he was when he first showed up in the NFL in 1998. If you doubt that, just read his history of jail time (okay, that was before the NFL) and fines. Even the most basic due-diligence would suggest that Randy Moss, though an amazing talent, was being dumped by the Patriots for a reason and the Vikings would be wise to avoid getting tangled up with him.
But, they didn’t avoid Moss. Instead they jumped at the deal and now they’re attempting to jump out of it. I don’t know what is going to happen next, but, the way things are going, it’ll probably be snakes on the team plane.