Randy Moss is getting a second chance with his first team.
Moss arrived in Minnesota Wednesday night after the Vikings traded a third-round pick to acquire him, joining him quarterback Brett Favre. Their pairing is something they’ve thought about for years, and now Minnesota’s newest odd couple will be showing first in New York Monday night.
“Me and Brett (have) a long history with one another,” Moss said Thursday after going through his first practice with the Vikings. “I think when we started out in the NFC, playing against one another … all along (agent Bus Cook) just wanted to see if me and Brett could hook up one day. Knowing that I’m a little older, knowing that he’s older, I know we don’t have that far of a window. The opportunity is closing.”
Favre will turn 41 on Sunday. He’ll get to play with his new present the following night against his old team, the Jets.
And Moss, now 33, is looking forward to playing with the man he used to admire from the Lambeau Field sidelines throwing passing to his division rivals in Green Bay.
“He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer,” Moss said of Favre. “I can remember one time my rookie year, we were playing in Green Bay, they wanted all the off guys to come sit down. Everybody come and sit down and rest your legs. I said, no, I want to watch Brett Favre and see his magic. Like I said, I know I’m a little up there in age, but I still feel I can play at a high level. Brett probably feels the same way.”
Favre’s level hasn’t been as high as it was last season. Far from it, in fact.
Last year, Favre had the first passer rating of his career above 100 when he hit the 107.2 mark after throwing 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. This year, the passing offense has been stale. Through three games, Favre has already thrown six interceptions and only two touchdowns, and his 60.4 passer rating is one of the lowest in the league.
Moss might be the fuel needed to turn the offense potent once again.
“I hope that there is still some magic left with me, with him, with this team. Absolutely,” Favre said. “How could you not want to play with this guy? It can’t do anything but make us better, make the guys around us better.
“…Randy comes in, we’re just going to throw it up and there’s 11 guys on him and you just throw it up to him. There may be times when that’s the case,” Favre said with a smile. “I was just joking, 10 guys maybe.”
Favre has been criticized often for throwing into coverage, but he mentioned a few times that he believes Moss can win those battles. After amassing 90 touchdowns and 9,142 yards in his go-round with the Vikings (1998-2004), Moss has beat the double teams plenty of times.
After seven seasons, however, the Vikings decided to trade him for reasons that Moss still isn’t aware of (those were the days of the Red McCombs ownership group).
“I was more hurt when I left here (than New England). I think when I got traded from New England to here, I think it was more of an understanding because I’ve said time and time again, this is not football, man. It’s a job. It’s a business,” Moss said.
“… I started here. I feel obligated to this organization for drafting me. At the time it was Coach Dennis Green and his group that drafted me, and by me leaving here it’s still a bad taste in my mouth. Very depressed. Then, by me being able to be back here over the past 24 hours, I still feel obligated to make this thing happen. When no one wanted to give me a chance, the Minnesota Vikings gave me a chance, even though I did slip late in the draft in ’98.”
Moss made it clear he was happy to be coming “home,” but how long he’ll stay in purple remains to be seen. He is in the final year of his contract and the Vikings will be on the hook for less than $5 million of that for the rest of this year.
Moss wanted to avoid talking about his contract publicly, saying him talking about his dissatisfaction with his deal in New England led to trouble there, but according to multiple media reports the Vikings have agreed not to use the franchise or transition tag on him. That means if he doesn’t sign an extension before free agency begins – and without a Collective Bargaining Agreement, that’s still to be determined – Moss would be an unrestricted free agent.
Still, he seems genuine when talking about a connection with the fans of Minnesota.
“The people that I meet outside the state of Minnesota, all they know is me being in the purple 84. I still have love,” he said. “You can come and look at my closet. I still own my purple truck with the 84 inside. So I still have a lot of love for the Minnesota Vikings.”
Favre loves what Moss might mean for the offense.
“I don’t want to think out of the box, but you bring him in for a reason. The guy is an unbelievable player,” Favre said. “I’m like everyone else, I’m watching the Monday night game and I’m like, ‘He’s only been thrown to one time?’ So what if he’s covered? That’s the thing about Randy. So what if he’s covered? But does that mean you just throw to him when you’ve got four other guys that are wide open? So there’s this added pressure. Maybe it’s just I’m getting old.”
Old enough to have thrown 499 career touchdowns, and Moss now has a chance to catch number 500. But what seems to matter most to each of them is winning a championship. Favre already has one with the Green Bay Packers, along with a Super Bowl loss. Moss has only experienced the losing end of a Super Bowl bid with the New England Patriots.
“When I first came into the league, I didn’t really think about it. I really didn’t. But I think once I got older and 1998 slipped up with Atlanta (in overtime of the NFC Championship Game), and then 2000 we went to New York – as I was younger, I thought that the opportunity would knock at the door a little more often than it did,” Moss said. “But as I’m getting older, that opportunity slips out from up under you. So, having a championship under my belt at this point in my career is very important, because I think that’s what you play the game for, is to win championships. That’s what I’m missing.”
Actually, Moss is just the kind of receiver Favre has been missing, but the 6-foot-4 specimen is ready to get their professional relationship started.
“To all the Vikings fans that’s coming to that Metrodome, pull your 84 jerseys out, man,” he said. “I think this is going to be a fun ride.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.