Craig: Rewinding the Randy-Go-Round

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 8, 2012 - 2:28 PM

With the Vikings set to face Randy Moss and the 49ers, let's look back at the mercurial receiver's ill-fated second stint in purple.

MANKATO - Randy Moss' mind and mouth always have been as quick and explosive as the legs that have carried him into the end zone via hyperspace 153 times in his NFL career.

Sometimes, the mind and mouth are witty, humorous and harmless. Like the time Moss was walking his dog in Minnesota and a curious reporter took a swing at small talk by asking him what the dog's breed was.

"Nunya," Moss said.

"Nunya?" the reporter asked.

"Yeah," Moss said. "Nunya ... business."

Other times, especially hard times, Moss' mind and mouth have gone much further south on him. They've taken this enigmatic man to a darker mood on and off the field and will threaten to keep him out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite being one of the greatest receivers the game ever has seen.

Two years ago, Moss' mind and mouth took both his career and the career of then-Vikings coach Brad Childress on a 27-day free fall with neither side owning a parachute. It was a classic crash-and-burn that could have been sidestepped had Childress consulted some of his veterans Oct. 5, 2010, the day before he made that ill-fated trade that brought Moss back to Minnesota five years after his first stint ended with a trade to Oakland.

"Oh, yeah, I knew that relationship wasn't going to work," said cornerback Antoine Winfield, who might face Moss briefly on Friday night when his comeback with the San Francisco 49ers continues with a preseason opener against the Vikings. "They definitely were going to clash. It was just a matter of how fast."

Real fast.

"I love Randy," defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. "But I don't know what was going through his head at the time. He and Coach Childress weren't combining real well. Vinegar and oil, I guess."

Finally, in the aftermath of Moss' bizarre return to New England to play the Patriots on Nov. 1, 2010, Childress told the team Moss was being released. This, of course, followed a 28-18 loss in which Moss put forth little effort and actually quit running on a pass that should have been a touchdown.

The final straw

It also followed a postgame locker-room outburst in which Moss told owner Zygi Wilf and other team executives in no uncertain colorful terms that Childress was unfit to coach and should be fired. After that, Moss went to a podium, told reporters he'd ask himself the questions and then proceeded to praise his former coach, Bill Belichick, while criticizing Childress.

"You could tell pretty early on that he really didn't want to be with us," former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber said. "If he was going to continue doing what he was doing, it was good that he was gone."

Moss wasn't released until Nov. 2, reportedly because Wilf spent 24 hours contemplating whether he should keep Moss and fire Childress, who had violated team protocol by releasing Moss without consulting ownership. Twenty days later, Childress was fired with three years still on his contract. He was 3-7 -- including 1-3 with Moss -- only 10 months after leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.

"Having Randy around for a few weeks was interesting, to say the least," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "It made things a little more fun, but it didn't help us win many games."

Greenway's most unusual memory of Moss is one shared by most of his teammates who were around at the time. It was the infamous locker room encounter with the caterer from Tinucci's the Friday before Moss was released. In an expletive-filled rant that became a national story, Moss told the caterer, "I wouldn't feed my dog this ... ," um, stuff.

"You heard the statement, 'Oh, that's Randy being Randy,' but as a professional, there are certain ways you shouldn't act," Greenway said. "And that was certainly one of them."

'Perfect situation'

Moss spent the final eight games of that season catching six passes for 80 yards and no touchdowns for the Tennessee Titans. He and Childress spent 2011 out of football. Today, Childress is the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator, while the 35-year-old Moss is in the Bay Area receiving high praise for his talent, his close relationship with coach Jim Harbaugh and, yes, his effort level. He's battling Mario Manningham and Ted Ginn Jr. for the No. 2 receiver job opposite Michael Crabtree.

"It's a perfect situation for Randy," said Winfield, referring to the team that played host to last season's NFC Championship Game. "It's all set up for Randy to be happy on a great team. He's going to prove a lot of doubters wrong."

Winfield said he'd play with Moss "anytime, anywhere." Vikings receiver Percy Harvin echoed that sentiment while dismissing the popular notion that Moss was a bad influence on him.

"My favorite memory will be him teaching me how to watch film," Harvin said. "He came to my house a lot and showed me how to break down film and really study. He was so smart that we'd be watching film with the coaches and he'd ask them questions that they might not have even thought about. I don't think people realize how much of a student of the game Randy really is."

Vikings receivers coach George Stewart said the year away from the game will put Moss in the right frame of mind.

"I love his mind, a great football mind," Stewart said. "I've never been around a player who is as intelligent and as smart and has a great football sense like Randy. He was able to sit down and ask great questions. Questions that made you go, 'Mmmm, this guy may have a future after football as a coach.'"

Coach Randy Moss? Now that would really be fun to watch.

Mark Craig • mcraig@startribune.com

  • VIKINGS AT 49ERS

    What: Preseason opener for both teams

    When: 8 p.m. Friday

    TV: Ch. 23 (100.3-FM)

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Minnesota 17 3rd Qtr 2:30
Miami 14
Baltimore 7 3rd Qtr 11:10
Houston 16
Detroit 10 4th Qtr
Chicago 14
Cleveland 6 3rd Qtr 1:30
Carolina 10
Atlanta 20 3rd Qtr 0:35
New Orleans 7
Green Bay 13 4th Qtr 10:19
Tampa Bay 3
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Pittsburgh 17
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NY Jets 13
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
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Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
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Cincinnati
New York 2:30 PM
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Boston
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NY Rangers
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Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 66 1st OT 0:56
Army 68
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 64 1st OT 0:31
Cleveland State 66
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 68 2nd Half 1:52
Central Arkansas 51
Holy Cross 23 2nd Half 15:01
Canisius 33
Southern Miss 35 2nd Half 12:42
Georgia State 44
Western Carolina 29 2nd Half 17:05
UNC-Asheville 38
Creighton 24 2nd Half 15:56
North Texas 46
Maryland 47 2nd Half 15:27
Oklahoma State 34
Cornell 38 2nd Half 16:47
Radford 43
Vermont 34 2nd Half 12:05
Saint Louis 35
Loyola-Maryland 35 2nd Half 14:46
Stony Brook 37
Reinhardt 38 2nd Half 17:44
Winthrop 52
Ark-Little Rock 34 2nd Half 11:55
Green Bay 48
TX-Pan American 35 2nd Half 16:36
Nebraska Omaha 49
Alabama State 49 2nd Half 20:00
Evansville 47
FIU 31 2nd Half
Hartford 42
Goshen 22 1st Half 2:07
Valparaiso 32
Bryant 2 1st Half 15:32
Denver 4
Austin Peay 4 1st Half 14:22
Lipscomb 9
Tennessee St 0 1st Half 16:00
Middle Tennessee 11
South Dakota 4 1st Half 18:10
Montana 4
ULM 2:25 PM
Samford
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
Hampton
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Bradley
Troy 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Georgia
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
Alabama
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
Duquesne 56 2nd Half 0:47
Providence 63
(3) Texas 53 2nd Half 7:45
(4) Texas A&M 57
Rhode Island 56 2nd Half 2:02
Bryant 51
South Florida 37 2nd Half
Penn State 34
Sam Houston St 28 2nd Half 16:01
TCU 48
Evansville 29 2nd Half 16:30
IUPUI 39
(14) Maryland 66 2nd Half 16:48
Coppin State 27
Mercer 37 2nd Half 13:57
Coll of Charleston 49
NC A&T 17 2nd Half
Chattanooga 32
Princeton 52 2nd Half 15:21
Monmouth 32
Eastern Illinois 56 2nd Half 12:06
Lehigh 50
Rider 41 2nd Half 14:36
Binghamton 37
SC State 24 2nd Half 15:34
Clemson 35
Fairfield 39 2nd Half 14:46
Iowa State 45
Richmond 58 2nd Half 11:18
Eastern Kentucky 37
Cleveland State 52 2nd Half 10:56
Morehead St 52
Kent State 35 2nd Half 15:43
Colgate 33
South Alabama 21 2nd Half 10:33
UAB 60
Saint Peters 22 2nd Half 14:27
Navy 46
Youngstown St 31 2nd Half 13:10
Pittsburgh 48
NJIT 28 2nd Half
Lafayette 34
Davidson 15 2nd Half 16:04
Charlotte 47
Indiana State 19 1st Half 8:06
St Johns 17
Southern U 16 1st Half 3:33
Florida 36
Wright State 16 2nd Half
Purdue 31
Elon 2:00 PM
(6) North Carolina
Ill-Springfield 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
(19) Oklahoma St 4 1st Half 13:39
USC 11
Houston 7 1st Half 12:25
Texas Tech 7
Ark-Little Rock 6 1st Half 15:55
Tulsa 5
Dayton 5 1st Half 15:07
Vanderbilt 10
Northern Ariz 5 1st Half 16:18
New Mexico 2
UNC-Asheville 8 1st Half 15:28
USC Upstate 4
North Dakota 4 1st Half 15:53
South Dakota 10
Western Ill 11 1st Half 14:02
Marquette 8
Ball State 3 1st Half 18:53
Western Ky 2
(8) Kentucky 4 1st Half 15:25
(13) Duke 13
New Orleans 6 1st Half 14:45
Alabama 14
Chicago State 6 1st Half 14:36
Milwaukee 11
Bowling Green 7 1st Half 16:07
Bradley 2
Northern Ill 4 1st Half 15:38
Northern Iowa 7
(23) Iowa 0 1st Half 20:00
Drake 0
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UCLA 4:00 PM
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(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Virginia
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(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
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2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
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Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
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Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
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