Randy Moss spoke to the media in Minnesota this afternoon for the first time since the enigmatic wide receiver’s stunning trade from the Patriots Wednesday, but some key questions about his departure remained unanswered.
Moss, who played for the Vikings from 1998 until he was traded to Oakland before the 2005 season, spent more time expressing gratitude at returning to where his decorated career began than shedding any light on why it ended abruptly for him in New England.
“I’m very fortunate to be back home where it all started. It’s been a hectic last 48 hours,” said Moss, who joined the Patriots in 2007 and caught a record 23 touchdown passes in his first season and 50 in 52 games overall in New England. “I thought about this time and time again about how this thing was going to play out, and the love was still here for me in Minnesota, so to all the Vikings fans, pull your 84 jerseys out. This is going to be a fun ride.”
It was a brief ride for Moss with the Patriots this season. He spoke out about his contract status in a rambling 16-minute press conference after a season-opening win over the Bengals, and there were reports he had a disagreement with quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien at halftime of an eventual 41-14 victory over the Dolphins Monday.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a press conference earlier today that he never had disciplinary troubles with Moss and that he was a good teammate. While his production is down — the 33-year-old has nine catches and three touchdowns through four games — he’s still perhaps the game’s most dangerous downfield receiver.
So why the trade? Moss didn’t provide any more insight than Belichick did.
“Did I want to get traded out of New England?” Moss said. “I don’t really know what the answer is. But there’s no other place I’d rather get traded to than Minnesota.”
“Some things in New England didn’t go according to plan,” he added, “and here I am. What me and Coach Belichick talked about, I don’t really want to make public.”
Moss said he had no regrets about his three-plus seasons with the Patriots, and praised Belichick.
“Me being in New England, that was something special,” Moss said “I’d never been part of a team, and they’re a team. Now that I’m gone, I’m not going to say anything negative or bash the organization.”
“We go [to New England] in a few weeks. One thing [Belichick] did share with me was he wished me the best except for that game right there. I look forward to facing those guys on the 31st of October.
“I still got love for [the Patriots], I really do man. It’s something that I’ll never forget. We did some magical things up there but the show must go on.”
Moss, who is second all-time with 151 receiving touchdowns, said he wasn’t hurt by the trade and didn’t take it personally.
“I’ve been traded before. I was more hurt when I left [Minnesota],” he said. “I think when I got traded from New England I feel it was more of an understanding. I’ve said time and time again. This is not football, man. It’s a job, it’s a business. When the fans of the game understand the business of the game I think it’ll be better for everyone.”
A free agent after the season, there were indications in New England that Moss dissatisfied with his contract status in New England. He wouldn’t say whether he’s talked to the Vikings about a long-term deal.
“I don’t really want to get into contracts,” he said. “I think this is how the whole thing started. Some things in New England didn’t go according to plan, and we sit up here now. I don’t really want to get into the contract thing, I think everything will work itself out. If I’m going to be here next year as a Viking, then that’s what it’s going to be. If I’m not then I’m not. Right now I have a job to do and that’s play football, so we’ll leave it at that.”
Moss participated in his first practice with the Vikings, and quarterback Brett Favre, who had lobbied for Moss to be acquired when Favre was in Green Bay.
“Me and Brett have a long history, from when we started out in the NFC playing against each other,” Moss said. “All along [Bus Cook, Favre’s agent] wanted to see if we can hook up one day. I know we don’t have that far of a window.”
Vikings coach Brad Childress was asked about how much he anticipated Moss playing in Monday night’s game vs. the Jets.
“There’s a ramping-up process. We’ll try to get him more as opposed to less (plays),” Childress said.
Childress was also asked how Moss looked in his first practice with the Vikings today.
“He looked right at home, I think he’s headed in right direction.”
Moss, who said he got depressed during the end of his previous tenure with the Vikings and grew more depressed losing in Oakland, had the line of the day when he cited his previous troubles in Minnesota, referencing the infamous “love boat” cruise that happened after his departure.
“I had problems here, who didn’t? Imagine if I had been on that boat, then there really would have been problems.”
Chad Finn of the Globe staff contributed to this report.