… AND comparing him to what Terrell Owens did is a complete farce.
For years, back through his initial tenure with the Vikings, I’ve been defending Randy Moss against accusations that he was somehow this gigantic “distraction” from the rest of his team or worse yet, somehow simultaneously the most dominant wide receiver of all time and lazy. I even wrote about this in my “Randy Moss is the best Wide Receiver of All-Time” article from a week or two ago, which was, somewhat amusingly, written both about and the source of a lot of negative comments on the purplePTSD.com facebook page. Which was about Moss’ “Attitude/Work Ethic/Quality as a Teammate/etc.”… Now, after NFL Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian stated that he believes that neither Terrell Owens nor Randy Moss belong in the Hall yesterday, I feel that it’s time for me to explain my thoughts further.
Bill Polian, former general manager of the Hall of Fame (Whatever that means), to his credit, at least distinguished between Moss and Owens in explaining why neither belongs in the hall (In his opinion). I say to his credit because I do believe that a few things that Moss did back in the late 90’s early 00’s ended up getting him lumped in with the much more frequent and malignant behavior of Owens. So, the fact that most of Polian’s ire was directed, from what I can tell, at Owens, makes it less irritating… But, still irritating none-the-less. Now, some may question why I consider(ed) this such a big deal. So, really, let me explain.
I feel like it’s a big deal (present and past tense) because… It was a big deal. It was a big deal then because a lot of fans clearly bought into it, and that allowed then owner Red McCombs to be able to make the trade that then new owner Zygi Wilf (And company) asked him not to make before the team switched hands, creating a void that really has yet to be filled at the receiver position for the Vikings while going down as one of the worst trades in NFL history (The second in a little over a decade for the Vikings franchise). Now it’s a big deal because it’s affecting Moss’ legacy, per Polian’s statement that if it were solely up to him that he wouldn’t be allowed in the Hall and also for fans in general (Again, see our Facebook account…). Moss is an all-time great and his Hall of Fame status shouldn’t even be in question, so things like this ruin that legacy and could even end up creating an environment where young fans aren’t aware of just how good Randy Moss was, which would be a crime.
So, what did Polian say about Moss? Well, like I said, he started off by going hard at Owens, probably because Owens has been the most vocal about his distrust and dislike for the Hall of Fame lately, probably because he’s already eligible and has been passed upon for the Hall, while Moss won’t be eligible until next year (Although, I don’t think it’s Moss’ style, especially these days, to really go all out over something like this, at least when compared to the exponentially more vocal Owens). About Owens, Polian said (When chatting with the ‘Talk of Fame Network’):
“First of all, here’s my position: Contribute both individually and to the team. T.O.’s situation, T.O.’s temperament, his ability to contribute to the team was well known up front. He was going to be a problem. We did not want to deal with problem children. Others may. We didn’t. That’s number one.
Now. I’ve always thought that Owens was a much more guilty player than Moss was (When it came to selfish and distracting behavior). He was an actual distraction to the many, many teams he played on and while he was a beast to deal with in his prime (For opposing defenses), he was also a pretty unstable guy who really never was able to offset his off the field antics by elevating the team(mates) around him. Moss, on the other hand, was able to create two of the best offenses of all time, by drawing double and often triple coverage that allowed other players to not only get open and help the offense as a whole but also by helping those players personally (Or should I say, financially, like Dante Culpepper, Nate Burleson, etc.). That’s probably why Polian did make this distinction (By not mentioning Moss in the same sentence), which again is at least something… But, he did go after Moss none-the-less by saying:
“Number two, every year in Indianapolis we said the following: ‘The price of admission is 100 percent effort all the time in everything we do.’ Well, how can we take Randy Moss when we make that statement? It’s that simple.”
Now. This is just an ignorant statement. Polian is referring to the infamous “I play when I want to play” statement that shot around the league like the clap in Vietnam and while I’ve explained it before, I think the best way to really defend Moss is by using the words of current Hall of Fame member and former Randy Moss teammate and mentor, Cris Carter (So I sound less like a fanboy making things up to defend my idol, even though I’m happy to take that title)…
“Some of it, did he mean it? Yes. But some of it did get misconstrued? It was not taken totally out of context, but some of it was asked in the sense of: ‘Does Coach Green get you motivated? Do you like playing on Monday Night Football? Do you like playing the Packers? Does Cris have to get on you to make a play?’ And he said, ‘No, I play when I want to play.’”
It’s really that simple. If you can accuse Moss of anything, it’s that he was fairly inelegant when it came to dealing with the media and I do believe that he did feel slighted by them from the get-go because of how they responded to his wearing of sunglasses to the 1997 Heisman Trophy ceremony. Moss, just a baby from West Virginia, wasn’t accustomed to all of the cameras and attention that came from the ceremony and was admittedly super nervous. So, he decided to wear sunglasses in an attempt to hide his fear, which is actually super endearing if nothing else. The media portrayed this as “disrespect” and even “Thug-gery”, with some of the comments having racial connotations to them. So I think from that point forward Moss really just wanted nothing to do with the sports media. So, when asked by a reporter if he tried harder during nationally televised games (A loaded question, to put it lightly), Moss replied… “I play when I want to play” (Emphasis on the second ‘I’, not on the entire sentence itself) and the rest is clearly a history that is still coming back to bite the best receiver of all time.
I also want to mention how laughable it is for Polian to say that unless a player somehow gave 100 percent all of the time, they shouldn’t be allowed into the Hall of Fame. Unless you’re playing offensive line and you really need to give 100 percent all of the time, no player, especially a skill player, gives 100 percent all of the time. There are countless plays where defenders might not attempt to fight through a block thrown by a wide receiver on the opposite side of the field and both kinda just stand there… So, should both of those guys get disqualified from the league? I mean, in a sport where your health is the most important thing, going 100 percent all of the time could get you into a lot of wholly unnecessarily risky situations. So, pick your battles, is the key and while this isn’t even what Moss meant, even if he did, the idea of it is absurd. I mean, Polian was the general manager of those four Buffalo Bill teams that went to the Super Bowl in the early 90’s… I’m sure that there’s a joke in there somewhere, so, known yourselves out below in our FB comment section…
Thankfully, Polian doesn’t have the ability to block any player from entering the Hall of fame, but I do think that this is a sign that it’ll take Moss more than a couple years to actually make it into the Hall. Which, is completely preposterous, if you ask me, because Moss is the most gifted receiver of all time (I think we can all agree on that) and some would say the best of all time as well. I am one of those people and hopefully at some point down the road he will get the recognition he deserves while also eventually being able to detach himself from a lot of the stigma that has followed him around since his early playing days, thanks to a lot of ignorance, the acts of Owens and people like Polian.