Randy Moss is going home again.
Twelve years after the Minnesota Vikings drafted him with the 21st overall pick in 1998, Moss is back where he started -- with a desperate team hoping he answers their Hail Mary. It's a testament to how well the mercurial wide receiver performed in New England that the same player who was traded for a fourth-round draft pick leaves New England four years later for a third-round pick.
Especially considering Moss is 33 years old. Wide receivers don't age as quickly as running backs, but the list of receivers, like Moss, who rely so much upon their athleticism and dominate after the age of 33 is short.
It's the ultimate gamble for the Minnesota Vikings, a team with preseason Super Bowl aspirations that, at 1-2, can't quite shake the lingering effects of their NFC Championship Game loss to the Saints. Now that the Moss trade is complete, there are only questions: can uniting Brett Favre and the receiver he's openly pined for over the years produce a Super Bowl? Anything less than that and this union will be considered a failure. For fans in Minneapolis who still curse Gary Anderson's missed 1999 field goal each night before they go to bed, the question is simpler: Do Favre and Moss, gunslinger and blazer, have one last run together?
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Vikings fans will believe the answer is yes. That's even though Moss, like a diva in any field, has a tempestuous relationship with the city. From an arrest for driving with a police officer on the hood of his car with marijuana in the vehicle to announcing that he plays when he wants to play to leaving the field with two seconds left and mooning Green Bay Packer fans, Moss was never far from controversy in Minnesota. All of those issues pale if Moss can rejuvenate the offensive hopes of an aging quarterback and, in playing 13 regular-season games for the Vikings, take Minnesota to the Super Bowl.
In fact, leaving the controversy aside, Randy Moss is the single most entertaining player in the past 12 NFL seasons. The most. Period. There isn't a single player who has had more "I can't believe I just saw that" moments. What's more the duration of Moss's explosive athleticism at wide receiver is without parallel. Most players of Moss's ability level are shooting comets streaking across the NFL sky, here today and gone tomorrow, victim's of a lost step or big hit before they reach the age of 30.
Perhaps the football monk, a hooded Bill Belichick has seen something in Moss that suggests he's in rapid decline. Why else would Belichick part ways with Moss with the Patriots sitting at 3-1? Is Belichick afraid that Moss is going to give him the same effort he gave the Oakland Raiders when he was upset in California? He must be, right? Otherwise, how can you explain a Pro Bowl player being traded in the midst of an NFL season? What's more, has it ever happened when the teams play a game later in the season? When is that game? Halloween, of course. In a delicious turn of costume Randy Moss will return to New England dressed as a Viking.
When you break it down this way, it's a safe gamble by the Vikings. If Moss is Moss, then Favre can be Favre, the tight end won't be the leading receiver for the third consecutive week and the field will be stretched for running back Adrian Peterson. The Vikings should win the NFC North and advance to the playoffs. If Moss isn't Moss then the Vikings have lost a third round pick, spent quite a bit of money in a cap-free year, but they've still given their team the best possible shot to advance to the playoffs. Really, when you look at it from that perspective, isn't this a no-brainer for the Vikings?
I think so.
For a third-round pick, you get a future Hall of Fame receiver to pair with your future Hall of Fame quarterback. Brett Favre still throws the deep ball well and no receiver in the league catches the deep ball better. The band is getting back together for one last show. Even if, you know, the band has never been together before. This trade still has the feel of a reunion, doesn't it? Even though it never happened, Favre and Moss seem like they should have played together before. The aging gunslinging Mississippi quarterback and the wily veteran West Virginia receiver, a highlight reel set to the tune of the "Dukes of Hazzard" soundtrack. Bo and Luke Duke transplanted to Minnesota with Belichick in the role of Boss Hogg.
Staring down the barrel of a brutal schedule in the month of October -- at the Jets, the Cowboys, at Green Bay, at New England -- Brett Favre and Randy Moss give the Vikings a puncher's chance at the Super Bowl. Without Moss, it had become clear, the Vikings had no shot at all.
As an NFL fan, I can't wait to see how this turns out, and I suddenly like the Vikings chances an awful lot more.
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