Deep move by Patriots: Moss
They get talented but troubled receiver for fourth-round pick
FOXBOROUGH -- It was the type of moment that only a player such as Randy Moss creates.
In the middle of the table was a black speakerphone, piled with tape recorders and television cameras, a crowd of 40-plus media members gathered around. The anticipation hung in the air and then . . . beep, beep! The voice on the other end of the line boomed through.
It was Moss, the newest member of the New England Patriots, cutting off an initial questioner, taking control of the surreal scene.
"I don't think you all understand," he said, "how excited I am to be a part of this organization."
The words kicked off a 15-minute question-and-answer session that was both edgy and entertaining, putting a capper on the news that reverberated across the NFL yesterday -- the Patriots trading a fourth-round draft choice to the Raiders to acquire the controversial Moss.
As part of the deal, the 6-foot-4-inch, 210-pound Moss took a massive pay cut, tearing up the contract that called for him to earn $9.75 million in 2007 and $11.25 next season. In its place, he signed a one-year deal for $3 million, which also includes $2 million in incentives.
"Having a chance to play with an organization [like the Patriots] with the coaching staff, with Mr. Kraft as the owner, and the players they have in position, I didn't think that money was a big factor to me," Moss said.
Yet many things had to fall into place for the deal to happen, with coach Bill Belichick noting the wheels were put in motion at 11 p.m. Saturday, following the first three rounds of the draft. At that point, the Patriots received per mission from Raiders owner Al Davis to speak with Moss, as well as his representatives, regarding a restructured contract.
When it became clear the sides were committed to making it happen, there were still several loose ends to tie. Moss needed to pass a physical, so plans were made for him to travel to New England yesterday morning. There was also an important meeting with Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft, as well as other salary cap maneuvering.
All the while, the Patriots were pushing the clock, because the draft choice traded to the Raiders was the 110th overall selection, set to be picked shortly after the second day of the draft began yesterday at 11 a.m.
The Patriots weren't planning for an all-nighter, but much like their successful two-minute offense on the field, they managed to beat the clock and score.
"He's a very explosive player [and] dynamic receiver who has a lot of skills," said Belichick, who never had spoken with Moss before the weekend but received solid reviews from those who have coached him and played with him (former Patriot Doug Gabriel among them).
"He has a lot to offer. I think Randy is coming here as a player that is competitive, wants to win, can produce and help our football team."
Moss, who enters his 10th NFL season after playing for the Vikings (1998-2004) and Raiders (2005-2006), said he spoke with quarterback Tom Brady yesterday and that his troubled past won't be following him to New England.
Among the incidents in which Moss has made news include:
Admitting to using marijuana in a 2005 HBO interview. When asked in that interview if he still used marijuana, he responded: "every blue moon, or every once in a while I might." He later recanted, saying he was speaking strictly about past marijuana use.
In September 2002, Moss was involved in a traffic incident in which he knocked a Minneapolis traffic control agent to the ground with his car and was later charged with drug possession in that same incident. Amy Zaccardi sued Moss and the two settled out of court in 2004.
In Minnesota's final regular-season game Jan. 2, 2005, he walked off the field with two seconds remaining as his teammates lined up for an onside kick in a 21-20 loss to the Washington Redskins.
The following week in an NFC wild card playoff game against Green Bay at Lambeau Field, Moss "mooned" Packers fans following a fourth-quarter touchdown, turning his back to the crowd and pantomiming pulling down his pants. The NFL fined Moss $10,000. Following the fine he was asked how he would pay for it, and he responded by saying "When you're rich, you don't write checks."
"There are some things that I have done in the past and young in my career, but I think that's all behind me," said Moss, noting he was happy to leave behind a losing situation in Oakland and join a "professional ship."
"I'm not really living in the past," he continued. "I'm trying to live in the present and the future. I know I want it to work out and hopefully the organization feels the same."
At the same time, the 30-year-old Moss showed yesterday that he isn't lacking confidence or swagger. At one point, he challenged anyone who questioned his professionalism and work ethic "to line up against me and see what happens."
He also promised that "you all are going to really see some things that you've never seen before, and when it does happen, don't say I didn't tell you.
"What I have done in my nine-year career was just a glimpse of what I can do," Moss said, adding that being on a "Super Bowl stage" will allow him to "really show the world who I am and what I am able to do."
Moss believes Belichick is the type of coach who can motivate him and he said he doesn't have a problem being treated equally, or not being thrown the ball. "I have never been a selfish ballplayer. I've been selfish about winning," he responded.
At the same time, Moss showed his charming side. When speaking about longtime Patriot Troy Brown and both of their careers at Marshall University, Moss said: "I've always considered myself to be the second-best receiver to come out of Marshall."
Moss finished the conference call with a twist, as he was asked about running a blazing 4.29 time in the 40-yard dash.
"Let's put it this way -- the Moss of old is back," he responded. "We'll leave it at that."
And with that, Moss's voice tailed off, not to be heard again.
The recorders on the table kept rolling, another question was asked. But Moss was gone, ending an unexpected day with the flair that often accompanies him.
Christopher L. Gasper of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Mike Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.