by J.R. Lind
It's important we all prepare ourselves for what this means. There will be detractors and naysayers. These people are easily recognized. They are the same people who are enamored with Kerry Collins, gushing over his 13-3 season, but ignoring the 0-6 sequel and the fact that the old gunslinging graybeard is less mobile than many members of the Grand Ole Opry. These people are known to say things like "We should have kept Rod Hood" and "Chris Johnson should return kickoffs" and "That Vince Young, he's real ath-a-let-ic, he'd be real good at tight end." These people may be named George Plaster. They'll say things like "locker room cancer" and "distraction" and "takes plays off."
But that's OK. Everyone just relax. The Titans' Rent-A-Randy experiment is going to be just fine.
Why? First of all, even if it doesn't work out, the team's not out anything. We need to all resign ourselves to the fact that this is almost certainly nothing more than an eight-game sidetrack in Randy's Hall of Fame career. Let's be honest here, we ain't getting married to Randy. We're just having a fling. Once Kenny Britt's leg gets better, we'll walk down the aisle with him. For now, we get to have a fun little on-the-side action with Moss. So we pay Randy $3 million or so. If it works out, great. If it doesn't, we don't try to re-sign him. In the meantime, enjoy watching Moss draw double teams, taking the safety out of the way for Chris Johnson.
But, yes, your nagging brother-in-law with the Drew Bennett jersey and the Billy Volek tattoo keeps bending your ear about why this is a bad idea. We'll fix him. Here's Pith's point-by-point guide to defusing the most common Moss criticisms.
1) "He takes plays off.": This stems from comments made by, among others, a couple of Carolina Panthers defensive backs a few seasons ago. In the wake of that, Moss has been accused of not hustling or finishing out his routes on plays where he knows he's not getting the ball. It's a fair accusation. Video replay bears it out. Quite frankly, he sometimes does not run out the streak. He jogs. He doesn't always finish blocks, if he ever starts them at all.
But Randy Moss has also caught 153 touchdown passes, good enough for second all-time. Like Odeon's Sex Panther, 60 percent of the time, he works every time. So his half-assedness is better than 99.8 percent of everybody else's whole-assedness. I wish I could be lazy and be the second-best real estate reporter of all time.
2) "He will ruin our locker room.": Randy Moss is a football player, not a cursed Irish spirit. Moss' best performances have come with teams that have strong head coaches. He excelled at Minnesota when taskmaster Denny Green was in charge. He set a single-season touchdown reception record when surrounded by tough veterans in New England. His bad years (late in his first Vikings' term, the seasons with the Raiders, this last trip to Minnesota) all coincided with non-existent leadership from the top.
Jeff Fisher is a respected head coach who sometimes goes all CSI: Mustache when his players are in trouble. He's the kind of coach for whom Moss excels. You may also hear something about the time Moss fake-mooned some Packers' fans five years ago in a playoff game. This really happened. If you have a sense of humor and aren't a Packers fan (or Joe Buck), there's really no reason to care about this. He also doesn't do interviews. When he does, he does them with himself, which is hilarious, quite frankly. Unless you are a member of the media, this does not concern you.
3) "What about that tirade about the food in Minnesota?": There are lots of reports about how Randy didn't like some mom-and-pop catering up in the Great White North. If true, that was pretty unprofessional and ridiculous. What's more ridiculous is this little outburst is what led to Minnesota waiving Moss in the first place. I think that says a lot more about what kind of circus Brad Childress and Brett Favre have brought to Minnesota.
Also, Randy is one country dude. He grew up in West Virginia. He owns a Craftsman Truck Series team for God's sake. Being in Minnesota, the caterer probably brought a whole bunch of hotdish, which is Lutheran for "crappy casserole imitation" (I kid, some of my best friends are Lutherans). If I'm Vince Young (I'm not — my winning percentage isn't nearly as high), I take Randy on a tour of Nashville's finest dining establishments. Swett's, Arnold's, Prince's. He'll love it and he won't feed Prince's to his dog. Because that would be a terrible idea.
4) Various vague statements about marijuana and/or arrests. Randy popped for pot on a NFL drug test in 2001. Because of the league's substance abuse policy, he can be tested as much as 10 times per month. He has never failed a subsequent drug test. He was arrested in 2002 on a misdemeanor traffic violation — and, yes, a joint was found in his car. This is only time Moss has been arrested during his career, meaning he has the exact same number of arrests as an NFLer as the Blessed Kerry Collins.
Moss also was charged with battery as a high schooler after a fight, served 30 days in jail and violated his parole by smoking weed as a college freshman at Florida State — leading to him eventually landing at Marshall University, where he set about 90 trillion records. The man is 33 years old. Do you really wanna talk about what you did as a college freshman? There was also a restraining order filed against Moss in 2008 by a woman claiming Moss caused her bodily injury. She later withdrew that order, no charges were filed. Moss claimed her injuries were an accident; the woman, upon dropping the charges, acknowledged that Moss had no "malicious intent" towards her.
Randy Moss is hardly Pac-Man Jones — and, no, he's not Peyton Manning, either. He's brash, he's cocky, and he's a damn good football player. He's a lightning rod. But, again, he's also an incredibly talented football player who has been in far less trouble than people think — and it's not like the Titans have historically been a bunch of Boy Scouts anyway (Tyrone Calico in the back of an Escalade, anybody?).
Does he want the ball thrown to him? Yes, he does. And with good reason. His best seasons (his rookie year and his record-setting season with the Pats) also resulted in a 15-1 record for the Vikings and a 16-0 mark for New England. During one season in which the Vikings tracked throws to him, the team was 4-1 when Moss had at least 40 percent of the team's chances. They were 1-10 when he didn't. His selfishness leads to winning football games. And now he gets to do it for us.