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."
"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."
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 • email@example.com
|Minnesota||17||3rd Qtr 2:30|
|Baltimore||7||3rd Qtr 11:10|
|Cleveland||6||3rd Qtr 1:30|
|Atlanta||20||3rd Qtr 0:35|
|Green Bay||13||4th Qtr 10:19|
|Kansas City||6||3rd Qtr 0:34|
|New England||10||4th Qtr 14:06|
|NY Giants||3:05 PM|
|Denver||12/22/14 7:30 PM|
|New York||2:30 PM|
|LA Lakers||5:00 PM|
|New Orleans||6:00 PM|
|Maine||66||1st OT 0:56|
|San Francisco||64||1st OT 0:31|
|Coastal Carolina||68||2nd Half 1:52|
|Holy Cross||23||2nd Half 15:01|
|Southern Miss||35||2nd Half 12:42|
|Western Carolina||29||2nd Half 17:05|
|Creighton||24||2nd Half 15:56|
|Maryland||47||2nd Half 15:27|
|Cornell||38||2nd Half 16:47|
|Vermont||34||2nd Half 12:05|
|Loyola-Maryland||35||2nd Half 14:46|
|Reinhardt||38||2nd Half 17:44|
|Ark-Little Rock||34||2nd Half 11:55|
|TX-Pan American||35||2nd Half 16:36|
|Alabama State||49||2nd Half 20:00|
|Goshen||22||1st Half 2:07|
|Bryant||2||1st Half 15:32|
|Austin Peay||4||1st Half 14:22|
|Tennessee St||0||1st Half 16:00|
|South Dakota||4||1st Half 18:10|
|Northern Ariz||3:00 PM|
|SD Christian||3:00 PM|
|UC Irvine||3:30 PM|
|Seton Hall||5:00 PM|
|Appalachian St||5:30 PM|
|North Dakota St||6:00 PM|
|San Jose St||6:00 PM|
|Alcorn State||8:00 PM|
|Sacramento St||9:00 PM|
|BYU||12/22/14 1:00 PM|
|Marshall||12/23/14 5:00 PM|
|Navy||12/23/14 8:30 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Central Mich||12/24/14 11:00 AM|
|Fresno State||12/24/14 7:00 PM|
|Illinois||12/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Rutgers||12/26/14 3:30 PM|
|NC State||12/26/14 7:00 PM|
|Cincinnati||12/27/14 12:00 PM|
|Duke||12/27/14 1:10 PM|
|(15) Arizona State|
|Miami-Florida||12/27/14 3:00 PM|
|Boston College||12/27/14 3:30 PM|
|(25) Nebraska||12/27/14 7:00 PM|
|(1) South Carolina||84|
|Mount St Marys||49|
|William & Mary||51|
|South Dakota St||64||FINAL|
|(5) Notre Dame||64|
|Duquesne||56||2nd Half 0:47|
|(3) Texas||53||2nd Half 7:45|
|(4) Texas A&M||57|
|Rhode Island||56||2nd Half 2:02|
|South Florida||37||2nd Half|
|Sam Houston St||28||2nd Half 16:01|
|Evansville||29||2nd Half 16:30|
|(14) Maryland||66||2nd Half 16:48|
|Mercer||37||2nd Half 13:57|
|Coll of Charleston||49|
|NC A&T||17||2nd Half|
|Princeton||52||2nd Half 15:21|
|Eastern Illinois||56||2nd Half 12:06|
|Rider||41||2nd Half 14:36|
|SC State||24||2nd Half 15:34|
|Fairfield||39||2nd Half 14:46|
|Richmond||58||2nd Half 11:18|
|Cleveland State||52||2nd Half 10:56|
|Kent State||35||2nd Half 15:43|
|South Alabama||21||2nd Half 10:33|
|Saint Peters||22||2nd Half 14:27|
|Youngstown St||31||2nd Half 13:10|
|Davidson||15||2nd Half 16:04|
|Indiana State||19||1st Half 8:06|
|Southern U||16||1st Half 3:33|
|Wright State||16||2nd Half|
|(6) North Carolina|
|SE Missouri St|
|(19) Oklahoma St||4||1st Half 13:39|
|Houston||7||1st Half 12:25|
|Ark-Little Rock||6||1st Half 15:55|
|Dayton||5||1st Half 15:07|
|Northern Ariz||5||1st Half 16:18|
|UNC-Asheville||8||1st Half 15:28|
|North Dakota||4||1st Half 15:53|
|Western Ill||11||1st Half 14:02|
|Ball State||3||1st Half 18:53|
|(8) Kentucky||4||1st Half 15:25|
|New Orleans||6||1st Half 14:45|
|Chicago State||6||1st Half 14:36|
|Bowling Green||7||1st Half 16:07|
|Northern Ill||4||1st Half 15:38|
|(23) Iowa||0||1st Half 20:00|
|Central Michigan||2:30 PM|
|Western Carolina||2:30 PM|
|Cal Poly||3:00 PM|
|No Dakota State||3:00 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton|
|Idaho State||3:00 PM|
|(18) Michigan State||3:00 PM|
|Fresno State||4:00 PM|
|St Francis-PA||4:00 PM|
|(10) Louisville||4:00 PM|
|(21) Miss State|
|Aug 8 - vs. Oakland||7 pm||X||10-6|
|Aug 16 - vs. Arizona||7:30 pm||X||30-28|
|Aug 23 - at Kansas City||7 pm||X||30-12|
|Aug 28 - at Tennessee||7 pm||X||19-3|
|2014 regular season|
|Sep 7 - at St. Louis||Noon||X||34-6|
|Sep 14 - vs. New England||Noon||X||30-7|
|Sep 21 - at New Orleans||Noon||X||20-9|
|Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta||3:25 pm||X||41-28|
|Oct 2 - at Green Bay||7:25 pm||X||42-10|
|Oct 12 - vs. Detroit||Noon||X||17-3|
|Oct 19 - at. Buffalo||Noon||X||17-16|
|Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay||Noon||X||19-13 ot|
|Nov 2 - vs. Washington||Noon||X||29-26|
|Nov 9 - Bye|
|Nov 16 - at Chicago||Noon||X||21-13|
|Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay||Noon||X||24-21|
|Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina||Noon||X||31-13|
|Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets||Noon||X||30-24 ot|
|Dec 14 - at Detroit||3:25 pm||X||16-14|
|Dec 21 - at Miami||Noon|
|Dec 28 - vs. Chicago||Noon|