Randy Moss: The Gary Sheffield of Football
Randy Moss and Gary Sheffield ought to get together some time. They have so much in common.
Moss, who now has alienated his way off another team, is the Sheffield of football.
You remember, Gary. He’s the guy with Hall of Fame tools who somehow found himself playing for eight different major league baseball teams in a controversy-filled career.
Moss is just like him. He makes big plays and millions of dollars wherever he goes. But, somehow, he is never happy.
You’d think playing for Bill Bilichick, the NFL’s best coach, and Tom Brady, one of the two or three best quarterbacks in the league, would be enough for a pass catcher with Moss’s unique abilities.
But you’d think wrong. While the nation was suffering in a major recession, poor Randy was making just $9 million a year, and he simply couldn’t allow himself to accept such a pittance. So, in the final year of his contract, he announced after the first game — a Patriots’ victory, by the way — that this would be his final season in New England.
Way to be a team player, huh? Your guys have just captured their first win and you throw cold water all over the celebration.
There are some coaches in the NFL who could ignore that, maybe even look the other way. Belichick isn’t one of those coaches. If you can’t put the team first, you won’t be around his locker room very long.
As soon as Moss made that statement in front of the TV cameras after Week I, you knew his future was sealed. He wouldn’t be finishing this season in New England. Then there was Monday night in Miami, when Moss was rarely a target of Brady’s passes and allegedly got into a shouting match with an assistant coach. That was the final clue.
On Wednesday, it became official. Belichick traded him to Minnesota, the team Moss started his NFL career with, for a meager third round draft choice.
Somewhere, Sheffield could commiserate. He used to alienate teammates and coaches the same way. Of course, Moss still has some catching up to do. This is only his fourth new team. Sheffield doubled that total.
Their talents were similar, too. Despite his many problems through the years, Sheffield managed to hit 509 career home runs, make nine all star teams and win a batting title. You might remember his time with the Dodgers. He arrived as the key player in that infamous trade that sent Mike Piazza to Florida.
Sheffield played well in L.A., though, hitting a bunch of homers and driving in a ton of runs. But soon enough, he did what he always does. He started badmouthing team officials, calling some of their moves stupid and whining about this and that.
Say goodnight, Gary. Soon enough, he was on his way out of town.
Moss is the same way, only his Hall of Fame credentials are already stamped. He is probably the finest pure receiver to come along since Jerry Rice, and his numbers, when he is finished, will more than qualify him for Canton.
Sheffield might not be as fortunate. Despite those 509 homers, he was hit with steroid allegations in 2001, and like some even stronger candidates such as his buddy, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, among others, he is not likely to make it to the Hall of Fame.
It will be interesting now to see how Moss conducts himself with the Vikings. His attitude got him shipped out of Minnesota the first time around. He eventually headed to Oakland, then New England. But this time, Brett Favre, who has been struggling without any quality receivers, probably will meet Moss’s plane with a band and a private limo.
My guess is Moss, knowing he is wanted, will play well. Nobody is a better deep threat, and his presence alone will open all kinds of possibilities for the Minnesota offense. With Adrian Peterson running, Favre throwing and Moss catching and stretching opposing defenses, this is a team with definite Super Bowl credentials.
Ah, but let’s not forget there is one other factor at work here. It is spelled m-o-n-e-y. Moss wants a new contract at a fat price. Will he demand the Vikings give him a rich new extension? Or will he, at 33, play out the season and see what happens? He could be back in Minnesota in 2011 or he could be somewhere else.
Wherever he is, this much I can assure you: He eventually will wear out his welcome.
He’ll find something to be unhappy about. He’ll stir things up in the locker room. He’ll make it uncomfortable for the front office. Happens every time.
Just like it did with Sheffield.
— STEVE BISHEFF