Is Randy Moss Worth the Trouble? Titans Sure Think So
"Eighty-nine dollars?" a woman asked. "Not worth it."
Plenty of customers thought otherwise, with Randy Moss jerseys flying off the racks since he joined the hometown team. The Tennessee Titans last week were alone among the NFL's 32 franchises in putting a claim in for the gifted and mercurial wide receiver following his unceremonious release by the Minnesota Vikings after just three unproductive and combative weeks.
Their take: definitely worth it.
"I think he's going to be great," said Titans Locker Room area manager Dan O'Reilly, who was working the mall Tuesday morning. "I can't wait to see what happens on the field."
All of Nashville is in anticipation, with Moss' arrival rivaling the Cam Newton news for headlines and talk-radio rants in this Southeastern Conference hotbed. This might be the franchise's boldest move since the Houston Oilers uprooted from Texas for the Volunteer State.
So it was, two hours later and about 18 miles to the north, Moss came off the practice field at Baptist Sports Park and stepped behind the podium at a crowded news conference for his first public words since that rambling five-minute New England Patriots lovefest Oct. 31 -- and accompanying sideswipe at Vikings coach Brad Childress -- following a Vikings 28-18 loss that led to his release.
Moss, fined $20,000 by the league for not speaking to reporters earlier this year, said even less this time than he did in Foxborough. And unlike in New England, when he vowed all future interviews would consist of him asking and answering all questions, he at least did the bare minimum.
After saying he'd take two questions "three at the most" -- Moss began by sending a message to his mother and two siblings that he's doing just fine, He acknowledged his respect for Titans coach Jeff Fisher, the most tenured head coach in the league going on 17 seasons. Then dove in.
"I've got big, broad shoulders and can carry a lot of weight,." Moss said. "The process of getting here has been kind of crazy. You know, I left a lot of good friends, a lot of good guys in Minnesota, and I'm sorry it didn't work out. But the show must go on."
And it did.
"I think when people start understanding the business side of football, it'll make it a better league, but like I said, I'd just like to thank my family and friends for sending out calls and texts and everything positive," Moss continued, with the former likely a reference his lack of a contract after this season, but who knows? "To all my critics ... you gotta get paid to be negative, so I look forward to coming out and helping this team however I can and whatever my role is is what I'm going to do. Hopefully, I fit into coach Fisher's team and go out and make some plays and keep winning."
The first question had to do with whether Moss made the Titans (5-3), tied with Indianapolis for first in the AFC South with a road date Sunday against the Miami Dolphins (4-4), a Super Bowl contender.
"No, I do not," he said. "I told coach Fisher, I've had pressure on me my whole life. This is nothing new to me. So instead of coming here and thinking Super Bowl, I just want to take it one day at a time, learn the plays, take it one game at a time and if down the road is the playoffs, we'll have that when we get to that."
The second question was answered with a question.
What can this team expect from you effort-wise?
"What do you expect from me effort-wise?"
Well, other people ...
"I didn't say other people. What do you expect from me effort-wise?"
I don't know what to expect.
"Well, then I don't know what to expect, either. Next question."
This one had something do with Moss' latest stop -- his fourth team (Minnesota, Oakland, New England, back to Minnesota, now Tennessee) in a 13-year career that likely will land Moss (along with his 948 catches, 14,778 yards, 153 TDs and counting) in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day.
"I made Minnesota my home. I loved being there. It just didn't work out," Moss said. "I had my own beliefs in what I believed in and coach (Childress) had his. So, am I bitter or mad that he let me go? No. You never know what the future holds. But right now, I'm a Tennessee Titan and I'm here to do whatever coach Fisher wants me to do."
Will Randy Moss thrive in Tennessee? FanHouse TV's Pat McManamon and LeCharles Bentley tackle that issue in this episode of NFL Two-a-Days:
Asked about what intrigued him about the Titans, Moss spoke about their history in Houston and Tennessee, then praised Fisher, too.
"I said it before, I didn't want to go into Minnesota and mess anything up, but I guess everybody blamed me for it," Moss said. "So I'll say it again: I ain't coming in here to start no trouble. Coming here to work everyday and hopefully win."
Then off he went, leaving his coach and new teammates to gush about how much Moss will help an offense ranked 24th in passing but No. 1 in scoring -- and brush aside any notion that bringing him into the locker room is a gamble. The locker room incident that reportedly started Moss on the road out of Minneapolis -- a profane tirade directed at the Vikings' lunch caterer and witnessed by nearly the entire team -- didn't come up.
Fisher, who has a track record of steering clear of character-flagged players ("Pacman" Jones being a rare exception), stated earlier in the week that there was "no risk whatsoever" with the Moss move. He wasn't back-tracking Wednesday, despite being reminded of some well-documented instances -- caught on camera, by the way -- when Moss clearly was giving less than 100 percent effort, including a play as recently as his last game with the Vikings, when he pulled up on a pass interference play and let a likely touchdown throw drop a few feet away.
"There are receivers every game that lose the flight of the ball -- they don't know the ball is coming, but he's automatically guilty of a lack of effort," Fisher said. "He's going to work hard. He's working hard now."
And all those other times?
"I wasn't there," Fisher said. "I don't know what the scenario was. I don't know what the play call was. I don't know what the formation was or whether he was primary or not or whether he didn't get a check. I can't comment. All I can comment on is the way he's going to play here."
The rest of the Titans fell in line with those talking points, starting with backup quarterback Kerry Collins, who teamed with Moss in Oakland.
"You can pick out a clip here and a clip there and say, 'Oh look, Randy is dogging it,' but that never tells the whole story," Collins said. "I played with the guy, I know what he brings."
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan: "(The) media likes to blow things up."
No argument there. Collins, in fact, said there were more reporters at his locker Wednesday than he'd ever seen during his time as a Titan.
They weren't there to ask about facing the Dolphins this week, either.
"That's what he brings," Collins said. "People are excited and are going to pay attention to what we're doing -- and defenses are going to pay attention to what we're doing. Those are all good things."
That's what they said when Moss went to Minnesota the second time. Barely a month ago, in fact. Moss was unhappy with his diminishing role and contract status in New England, so he was traded. Not much was different in Minneapolis. How'd that work out?
Still no new contract now, either.
"I told him let's have some fun and win some games first," Fisher said. "We'll discuss the contract after the season."
Collins is right about people paying attention. This could be really good or really bad.
But definitely worth watching.
If nothing else, jerseys sales are up.