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Another rallying cry

Pats will use newest Moss controversy as inspiration

Posted: Wednesday January 16, 2008 4:28PM; Updated: Wednesday January 16, 2008 4:45PM
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Randy Moss faced a media storm in the Patriots locker room Wednesday
Randy Moss faced a media storm in the Patriots locker room Wednesday

FOXBORO, Mass. -- In the larger world, the words in play are "domestic violence,'' and "temporary restraining order'' and "battery.'' These are serious terms, which should lead neither to swift judgment nor dismissal on the face of things. But in the narrow, self-absorbed world of NFL football, the situation is expressed more simply: Distraction.

As in: Will the fact that a Florida woman has been granted a temporary restraining order against Randy Moss be a distraction to the Patriots in their march to a fourth Super Bowl victory in seven years and the second perfect season in NFL history, which continues Sunday against San Diego in the AFC Championship Game?

The simplest answer to this question is not only an emphatic no, but it's also worth noting that the Moss affair will probably help the Patriots.

But let's back up for a second. The Moss story was broken Wednesday morning by a Florida radio station and quickly migrated north to the belly of Gillette Stadium and overwhelmed everything else on the day's agenda, as stories like these generally do. The basic facts were these: Rachelle Washington, 35, allegedly received a temporary restraining order against Moss, alleging Moss committed battery against her in Broward County, Fla., and prevented her from seeking medical treatment.

The news is rich with context. When the Patriots traded for Moss in the offseason, the acquisition was largely viewed as a gamble. The Patriots are a buttoned-up, corporate operation that speaks with one voice and generally stays out of the trouble. (This was before Spygate, before Patriots' safety Rodney Harrison was suspended for using human growth hormone, before the accusations of running up the score on overmatched opponents and generally before the Patriots became the team that much of football nation loves to hate).

Moss brought to New England a long history of distractions. He had once been the most feared receiver in the game, but there were questions as to whether that talent remained intact, and little question that he could drag down a team all by himself. An NFL-record 23 touchdown receptions later, with nary a minute's bad behavior, and those issues seemed dead, just two games from winning the Super Bowl.

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