The Rehabilitation of Randy Moss
The media equation really isn’t that hard. When you win you can do anything you like, treat people in any manner you see fit, and no matter what it is you do, it will be seen as a means justifying the end. A flamboyant, mercurial talent who wins is passionate. A flamboyant, mercurial talent who loses is a prima donna. And so, Randy Moss is great again. Just like that.
Moss, who may or may not have quit on Oakland last year, and may or may not have been justified in doing it considering the man calling plays for him had been out of football for 10 years and was running a bed-and-breakfast, was viewed with skepticism when he came to New England in April. And how could he not have been? Here was everything wrong with football (ego-driven, me-first) arriving on the doorstep of everything that is right (selfless, team-oriented, etc.) Or so the media narrative goes. It’s an extremely lazy caricature of professional team dynamics, but there it is.
Instead Moss arrived quietly and then proceeded to sit out almost all of training camp. Quietly. There were even whispers that he was going to be cut. With the world waiting for him to fail, he instead torched the Jets for 183 yards on 9 catches, and wouldn’t you know it, the adjectives for Moss today are “smart,” “tough,” and, gulp, “leader.”
Dan Shaughnessy goes so far as to compare Moss’s arrival with that of Bill Walton, which is a basic Shaughnessy trick, bringing up a Bird-reference, but this time it might actually be applicable (like Moss, Walton was seen as a me-first tease before landing with the team-first Celtics) and was certainly original.
Michael Felger, meanwhile, references a different basketball player, Allen Iverson, to rehash the practice, we talkin about practice bit, which is an even lazier trick since the reference is so far out of context it’s completely useless. Not once did Moss claim that he didn’t need to practice.
All his professional football life, Moss has had people speak for him, from Cris Carter in Minnesota to everyone who blamed him in Oakland. But then again, Moss never seemed to really care one way or the other about people like Carter jumping on his coattails.
Whatever the football moralists, Peter King, Felger et al., come up with to describe Moss, Sunday’s game made two things clear: He can still play, and the Jets secondary is woeful. Anything else is psycho-babble.