The Patriots trade of superstar wide receiver Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings for a third-round draft pick represents everything I despise about NFL "conventional wisdom," the New England Patriots organization and their dyspeptic toad of a head coach, Bill Belichick.
For twelve years, the football media have derided Moss as a malcontent, a "diva," even a cancer. And yet, as the hate has been rained down upon his head with annual monotony, do you know who loves Randy Moss? Quarterbacks. Moss is the kind of singular talent who turns average qbs into Pro Bowlers, and Pro Bowlers into Hall of Famers. Just look at his history since coming into the league way back in 1998. In Moss’s first season he caught a rookie-record seventeen touchdowns on a Minnesota Vikings team that set the mark for most points scored in a season. His quarterback, Randall Cunningham, had the best run of his star-crossed career and was named Player of the Year. When Cunningham played poorly in 1999, his backup, the talented but bumbling Jeff George, was finally consistent, which he achieved by tossing up remarkable spirals that Moss snatched out of the air. After George, Moss gave new quarterback Daunte Culpepper two of the best statistical seasons in NFL history. When Moss left the team for the Oakland Raiders, Culpepper’s career left as well. The two years in Oakland were uneventful—as are most years in Raider-land—but when Moss signed with the Patriots, he showed that he was truly an all-timer.
The already accomplished Tom Brady had a season for the ages, throwing a record fifty touchdowns, with twenty-three of them going to Moss, also an all-time mark. That Patriots team broke the record of Moss’s old Vikings team for points in a season. The presence of Moss opened the field for Brady to find underneath receiver Wes Welker who has more catches over the last three years than any player in the NFL. This is why Tom Brady recently called Moss the greatest deep threat in NFL history. This is why Brady is miserable today and Brett Favre is so elated you’d think they made Wranglers with an elastic waist. Favre has pined for Moss since the 1998 draft when he begged the Packers to take the Marshall University standout and then watched as Moss tormented the Pack for years.
That last word is key: years. For all the talk of the "mercurial Moss," his career has actually been one for the ages. Moss has the second most touchdown catches in NFL history and is still just 33 years old. The one receiver picked ahead of him in the 1998 draft, Kevin Dyson, hasn’t played in seven years. And yet, despite twelve years of putting up Hall of Fame numbers and being the object of desire for every QB in the game, he is still branded a problem player. Every team should have such problems. NFL writers who still beat this dead horse sound like geriatric country clubbers crying about the end of the gold standard.