Vikings coach Brad Childress fielded 12 questions about Randy Moss at his press conference early Monday afternoon and said he didn’t regret trading for the moody receiver on Oct. 6.
About an hour later, Childress’ actions spoke louder than his words, as he informed the players that he was placing Moss on waivers. Players confirmed that Childress told the team of the move, but Moss wasn't included on Monday's waiver wire. More than seven hours after his news conference, Childress finally issued a statement.
“This decision was made based on what we thought was in the best interests of the Minnesota Vikings, both in the short and long term,” he said. “We wish Randy the best as he moves forward in his career.”
Players were surprised by the news when informed during their team meeting.
“I really haven’t got a collective feedback from everybody. Certainly guys would be a little shocked just based on the transaction that happened a couple of weeks ago,” linebacker Ben Leber said. “But, again, we haven’t had a lot of time to really sit and think about it. We’ve been watching the game tape and reviewing our own stuff.”
The Vikings traded a third-round pick on Oct. 6 to acquire Moss, who was scheduled to be a free agent after this season.
New of him being placed on waivers came from NFL Network about 18 hours after Moss walked to the postgame press-conference podium and criticized the Vikings coach staff for going for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line instead of kicking a field goal at the end of the first half and for not implementing his advice on the New England Patriots’ tendencies into the game plan. Moss played for the Patriots for the last three-plus seasons before his trade to the Vikings. The Vikings lost 28-18.
“As far as I’m concerned, he was a good teammate, from what we know. But you never know what goes on behind closed doors. So, I’m not trying to get into to that. As far as I know, he was a great teammate and he’s a great guy,” said second-year safety Jamarca Sanford, one of a few players that made themselves available during the Vikings’ media-access time Monday afternoon.
“You’re never too shocked about what happens in this business. You look at how he left New England – it’s not a shock to him. It’s part of our business. If the number’s called we’re dealt with, that’s what we’ve got to play with.”
Moss only played in four games since the Vikings acquired him, catching 13 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
"It's kind of shocking, but at the same time the game of football is a business,” said safety Tyrell Johnson. “It's about what you're doing, how you contribute to the team no matter who you are. Really it's about winning football games. Not saying he didn't do a great job – I think he did. Honestly, I'm not in a management position."
Moss was limited to one catch for 8 yards Sunday against the Patriots and was targeted only twice as the Patriots kept him in check with two or three players having a hand in defensing him on most plays, but Leber said he didn’t have any indications that Moss caused any waves during the game.
“I didn’t hear anything about him criticizing anything during the course of the game,” Leber said. “Even at halftime, you could hear him just trying to be a positive influence, just trying to get the team and troops rallied up. I don’t think anything negative was said that I heard.”
After the game was different story, as Moss called out the Vikings coaching staff.
“I tried to prepare, tried to talk to the coaches and players about how this game was going to be played – a couple tendencies here, a couple tendencies there,” Moss said. “The bad part about it, you have six days to prepare for a team, on the seventh day, that Sunday, meaning today, I guess they come over to me and say, ‘Dang, Moss, you was right about this, about a couple plays and a couple schemes that they were going to run.’ And it hurts as a player that you put a lot of hard work in all week and toward the end of the week, Sunday when you get on the field, that’s when they acknowledge about the hard work you put in throughout the week. That's actually a disappointment.”
Childress said he heard about Moss’ comments criticizing his move to go for a touchdown at the end of the first half instead of a field goal, but he said on Monday that he hadn’t heard about the other comments criticizing the overall game plan.
“I think it was just, ‘Wow,’” Ben Leber said of the players’ reaction to Moss’ postgame rant. “Just because it sounded like it was unprompted and sounded like he wanted to get some stuff off his chest. He certainly has every right to do that. I don’t think that’s the way to do it.”
Asked if he thought Moss made those comments as a tactical move to get released, Leber said, “I’m not sure. I don’t know what his motivation was. You can certainly draw that conclusion, but who knows?”
If another team claims him on waivers, the Vikings wouldn’t be responsible for the balance of his $6.4 million salary, saving them roughly $3.4 million in salary.
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.