But when I was doing some research today, I found this quote, cited by then-Vikings center Matt Birk after Moss was traded from Minnesota in 2005, particularly interesting:
“You can stroke a dog’s ear the wrong way all you want, but ultimately it just goes back to the way it was meant to be.”
So here we stand with Moss, with one season left on the three-year contract he signed in 2008. He says he’s “unhappy.” Bill Belichick and the football folks down in Foxborough couldn’t be more effusive in their praise of the receiver, while acting as if the comment was never made.
The problem: Moss did say it. The bigger problem: This is part of a larger problem.
Forget the contract year stuff. Moss absolutely killed it in 2007, which was the only real contract year of his career. But back then, he knew if he performed, the team would work to re-sign him, and that’s just what happened. He reworked the two years and $21 million remaining on the contract he had in Oakland, and played on a one-year, make-good deal to get to that point.
This is different. The signs are out there that this will be his final year in Foxborough. He most certainly feels that way. And that scenario has never been a good one in the past.
Moss rubbed plenty of people (including the Mayor of Minneapolis) the wrong way on his way out of Minnesota, and his walk-off at the end of the 2004 regular-season finale and mock mooning of the Green Bay crowd in the playoffs punctuated his departure.
In Oakland, things were worse. Here’s Moss explaining to the San Francisco Chronicle in November 2006 why he had problems with drops that year …
“Maybe because I’m unhappy and I’m not too much excited about what’s going on,” Moss said then. “So, my concentration and focus level tend to go down sometimes when I’m in a bad mood. All I can say is if you put me in a good situation and make me happy, man, you get good results.”
That’s true. In 1998, with a championship-caliber team in Minnesota, he was awesome. Ditto for 2007 with the Patriots.
But now, with his contract up, and future uncertain, and the team in flux? All of it’s worth keeping an eye on.
When everything going along smoothly, you’re just fine. It’ll be interesting to see what happens this year after a few bumps in the road.
No matter what, it’s pretty easy to see why the Patriots are bending over backwards to say all the right things about their superstar.