Randy Moss fallout: Trade blows up in face of Brad Childress, Vikings
Randy Moss did to the Vikings what the Patriots feared he'd do to them
The Vikings were 1-2 when they acquired Moss, and went 1-3 with him
By waiving Moss, Brad Childress by proxy showed Brett Favre who's the boss
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we digest the latest unexpected twist in the 13-year soap opera known as Randy Moss's NFL career...
Now that Randy Moss has twice taken to a podium in Gillette Stadium this season and essentially shot his way out of town with his mouth, maybe we're starting to realize why the ex-Patriots, ex-Vikings receiver isn't always eager to talk to the media in the first place. Moss talks, and then he walks.
The great irony is that with that rambling and bizarro-world post-game press conference in Foxboro on Sunday evening, Moss just did to the Vikings what the Patriots feared he would do to them at some point this season -- create the kind of internal problem that can't be smoothed over or minimized. It all but forced the organization to cut ties with the talented but mercurial veteran.
What should us amaze us all is how well the Patriots navigated the landmine field that is Moss. Not only did they glean a 2011 third-round pick for a guy who only cost them a 2007 fourth-round pick, but after getting rid of him, they still some how wound up on the receiving end of all Moss's verbal bouquets Sunday evening. Somewhere right now, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft are grinning like Cheshire cats.
The Vikings? They lost the draft pick, and then got dumped on by Moss, who second-guessed their coaching decisions, and basically told the NFL world that being a Viking would never compare to the honor and thrill he felt being a Patriot. It was as if Moss went back to his old hometown and so openly pined for his former girlfriend that he felt compelled to tell his new girlfriend that she would never measure up. Along the way, Moss somehow forgot that he was the one who instigated the breakup in New England to begin with.
And did we mention that this all happened just hours after Moss was virtually no factor in New England's 28-18 conquest of the reeling Vikings, a game that vaulted the Patriots into first place in the AFC East and further sealed Minnesota's gloomy fate as a Super Bowl pretender? So the Vikings didn't even get the benefit of any impact from Moss in the one game they figured he would want to win more than any other.
All told, the Vikings got 13 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns out of Moss in four games. And one giant dose of embarrassment. Is there any single element of this story that Minnesota comes out looking the better for in their 25-day dalliance with No. 84? I simply can't find one.
In Moss's re-introductory press conference at the Vikings team complex on Oct. 7, he said: "To all the Vikings fans that are coming to the Metrodome, pull your 84 jerseys out, man. I think this is going to be a fun ride.''
Uh, when exactly did the fun start again? It must have been at some point in the Vikings' 24-21 Desperation Bowl win over Dallas on Oct. 17, because that's the only game Minnesota won with Moss back in purple. Otherwise, a Vikings team that was struggling along at 1-2 traded for Moss and then proceeded to continue its freefall, to 2-5.
So, how's the Super Bowl-or-bust season going so far in Minnesota, Brad Childress? Because the all-in approach doesn't seem to be working out. The Vikings sure went for it all this season, and now it's all blowing up in their face.
Coaxing Brett Favre off the tractor once more with repeated recruiting trips to Hattiesburg? Childress said go for it, because he knew how much his team wanted Favre back. Trading for Moss in early October even though all the signs of the old, selfish-Randy were again on full display? Childress said go for it, because adding a talent like Moss made any downside risk all but moot.
Just last week, this was Childress' assessment of Moss's impact so far in Minnesota, as told to members of the New England area media:
"He's been a positive in the locker room and on the field,'' Childress said. "He's obviously an 'A' competitor, smart football player. I think for a guy who has played as long as he has played, it was more about just getting him up to speed with our system. He understands a lot of things that are happening on the other side of the football against him, so it's not something that you have to teach both. He's been a joy to be around.''
I'm guessing the coach they call Chilly wishes he had a few of those sentences back. He might still call Moss something that starts with a capital A, and Moss definitely has a feel for the opposing team (the Patriots, in this case), but if he was such a joy to be around, how comes Childress doesn't want him around any more?
If you're going to have a problem with Moss and his giving of less than full effort on some plays, as the Vikings apparently did in their recent losses at Green Bay and New England, part of the issue was self-delusion all along.
This was, after all, the guy who once famously said he plays when he wants to play. Did you think a stint playing for Belichick and the Patriots cured Moss of that attitude once and for all? Moss has never given maximum effort in a losing environment, and a check of the NFL standings again this morning definitively proved that the 2-5 Vikings qualify.
Minnesota got from Moss what every losing team has always received from Moss: Only the effort he deemed worth giving.
Brett Favre openly lobbied for years to play with Moss, and really his ugly divorce from Green Bay in early 2008 had its roots in the Packers' steadfast refusal to do what it took to acquire Moss in 2007 and placate their veteran quarterback.
I wonder what No. 4's reaction will be this time, having gotten to throw passes in Moss's direction for only a month of NFL Sundays? It wouldn't be surprising in the least to see Favre fail to fall in lock step with his organization once again, second-guessing the wisdom of the team's decision-maker(s). I'd almost bank on it at this point, given Favre's strained relationship with Childress.
In some ways, I really believe Childress laid down the law with Moss in part because that's something he really can't do yet with Favre. But would like to.
Showing Moss who's boss in Minnesota is something of a proxy for showing Favre who's in charge. To have Moss walk in the door less than a month ago and already be criticizing Childress's calls and undermining his authority to some degree had to be something the Vikings head coach couldn't take. Not when there is already the perception that his celebrated star quarterback calls the shots that really matter in Minnesota.
Despite Childress clearly having concerns about Favre's health and his playing status Sunday in New England, Favre found a way to control the issue and get back into the starting lineup for the 315th consecutive time since early 1992. It did nothing but reinforce the appearance that Favre runs the Vikings show, and Childress takes his cues from No. 4.
For now, Favre can apparently still get away with that. But Moss didn't have that same clout, or a history of production under Childress. So with his team and its season going down in flames around him, Childress at least got to flex his authority in a way that his deal with Favre has never allowed.
As much as the blame for this whole debacle will rightfully fall on Childress for not knowing what he was getting his team into in dealing for Moss, I've already heard the commentary that somehow Moss has been mistreated and disrespected by Minnesota.
Please. I'm not buying that line of thinking for a minute. There's plenty of blame to go around in this mess. Moss has been tone deaf at least twice this season, and there's not a head coach in the league who would have been happy to hear what he had to say in either his press conference after Sunday's loss to New England or the one he gave after the Patriots' season-opening win at home against Cincinnati.
On Sunday, he came pretty close to insubordination against the team he suited up for. In Week 1, he chose to shift the spotlight from a huge team win to his own selfish contract situation. In neither case did he come off as someone capable of seeing the forest for the trees.
Don't weep for Moss. He's been told by two different teams this season that his services were no longer required. That's not just a coincidence. My way of seeing it, he had it coming both times.
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