Sorry to lay two bitching about the Vikings posts in a row on you, but when it rains it pours.
Being a Vikings fan is a solitary, pessimistic existence. I've explained what it's like to root for the Vikes in the past. Whenever something good starts to happen, we know that some horrible backlash will be visited upon us threefold. It's a sort of inverse, perverse, reverse karma. Starting to build some momentum in the early 90's? Don't worry, your GM will trade away the future of your franchise for a bust of a running back that would rather bobsled than play for the team that mortgaged it's soul for him! Have a place kicker who has been perfect all year? Well, at the end of the season he's going to miss the only field goal that matters! Draft arguably the best running back in the game and establish a dominant ground attack? He'll fumble three times in the NFC championship game. Finally get a hall of fame quarterback who can lead us to the promised land? He'll become so hated that pictures of his junk will circulate on the internet, and Saturday Night Live parodies will be the least of your worries!
I think you can see where I'm going here.
Then why should I be surprised when I log on to NFL.com yesterday and see that Moss is going to be waived by the Vikes? Not this nightmare again. I've already been through this once before, and with the same fucking player! Only in Vikings land. Back in '98, the Vikings got a steal in the 6th round when they picked up Moss. The reason he went so low was that the scouting report said that he was trouble. A discipline liability. A head case with a bad attitude. The dreaded "locker room cancer." '98 turned out to be a magical rookie year for Moss. He was a breakout star who gave our team a chance to score from anywhere on the field. It was all downhill from there. A few years in, there were whispers of missed meetings, locker room tension, and the obligatory cliched WR/QB/coach shouting matches on the sidelines. Then it really started to go south. There were run-ins with the law including Moss dragging a female meter maid with his car for half a block in downtown Minneapolis. Then he stopped running his routes when he didn't agree with the play call. Then one game he left the field early because he was pouting that poor Randy hadn't gotten the ball enough. That was it for me. He was a disgrace to the uniform, his teammates, and to the game of football itself. The Vikings wisely traded him to Oakland (where players with bad attitudes go to die) and I was glad to see him go. Glad to wave goodbye to a future hall of famer, the best deep threat in the NFL, and the most exciting player at his position since Jerry Rice. All that, and yet it was still good riddance.
Flash forward to '07. I'm living in Boston and the Patriots pick up a washed up veteran receiver for a song. He then blossoms into Moss 2.0, and it's a giant love fest in New England. He learned his lesson in Oakland, and now he was saying the right things and catching everything thrown at him. I couldn't believe my eyes. Another brilliant reclamation project by Bill Belichick. The honeymoon lasted three years before Moss started grumbling about his contract. Then he started the late for meetings thing. He was pouting in the media because he wasn't "appreciated."
When the Patriots traded Moss to the Vikings, it looked like a great deal for both teams. The Patriots got rid of that dreaded "cancer" from their locker room in the form of an aging player in the last year of his contract, while the Vikes got a desperately needed deep threat and a much needed boost of positive nostalgia. The prodigal son had returned! I was excited for a Favre to Moss touchdown! I was excited to see #84 back in Purple again! Surely he had learned his lesson by now! Nothing could possi-blye go wrong!
I guess I forgot that I was a Vikings fan for a minute.
Not to worry. I got a jarring reminder last Sunday as I watched Moss half-heartedly jog his routes, not block, and exasperatingly throw up his hands on the sideline. His body language reeked of quit. By the end of the game as I watched Moss slowly walk back to the line of scrimmage during the two minute drill as his entire team waited for him, I thought that he was up to his old tricks. Little did I know it would be even worse than that. After the game, Moss explained that he loved the Patriots, he didn't respect the Vikings, and that the coaching staff was incompetent for not following his game plan. Wow. In every profession I know of, you'd get fired for that. In some professions you'd get your legs broken or have an on the job "accident." A traitor is a traitor, and it felt like there was actually a chance that Moss had done everything in his power to throw the game. No wonder Robert Kraft was giving Moss a reach around before the game. He was still on the payroll! Moss was a double agent and he just dressed up as a Viking for Halloween! Well played Belichick, well played. The Patriots dumped a big salary, picked up a 3rd round draft pick, and got a little help winning a tough game. The Vikings got nothing but embarrassment and betrayal. Sounds about right. Par for the Purple course. At least it means that Childress will get fired, and that's a good thing for the Vikes.
Some other team will gladly pick up Moss, and he may or may not repeat his routine. I could care less. It all reminds me of that old saying about the hipocritical values of pro sports: If Jeffrey Dahmer could have run a 4.2 40 yard dash, he would have just had an "eating disorder." And I'm guilty of that attitude too. I looked the other way when Moss was embarrassing himself and the team, but still catching touchdowns and winning games.
Well, at least Moss was on the losing end of two of the most heartbreaking post season losses in the history of the NFL ('98 NFC championship and '07 Super Bowl). Maybe god really does have a sense of humor.
After all, he made me a Vikings fan.