Ex-Viking – twice removed – Randy Moss will often avoid the media, but he didn’t seem to mind the conversation and questions Wednesday when former teammate Erin Henderson was guest hosting on KFAN radio.
Henderson asked Moss about his time in Minnesota, if he would come back since Brad Childress was fired and about his relationship with Percy Harvin, who was outspoken against the move that Childress made to release Moss after only four games and a few run-ins with the coaching staff and team sponsors.
“You’ve got to live and die by what you believe and that’s what I did,” Moss said. “I live and die by what I believe in. I believe in loyalty, not just on the field but off the field. Some things got in the way and decided it was just right and best for me to get out of there.”
Actually, Childress decided it was best for Moss to leave the Vikings after only four games in which he totaled 13 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Childress infamously made the decision without consulting ownership or others in the front office and that lack of communication and collaboration reportedly had ownership deciding between Moss and Childress. Eventually, both were fired – Moss first and Childress three weeks later.
“I’m going to keep it real with you. Me and coach Brad Childress really didn’t have no problems, man,” Moss said. “I guess I probably said a few things after the New England game that really got my exit out of there very quickly. But I still have love in Minnesota. I’ve grown to love that state, the city of Minneapolis.
“But the business side of football I think the people have to understand. … When you get to the pros it’s about how you talk, how you walk, what you wear, what you’re not supposed to wear.
Moss was critical of the Vikings after their Oct. 31 game in New England game, a homecoming for him in which he caught only one pass. He made it clear on Wednesday that the Patriots hold a special place in his heart.
“If you’re asking me where my heart is, I think just the success as a wide receiver and everything that the New England Patriots stand for, I’m a big fan of Bill Belichick,” Moss said. “I really am, and not just on the field; I’m a fan of his off the field because the little grouchy man that you see on camera is not what you see off camera. I’ve grown and I’ve (learned) to respect the game first and foremost. But if you’re asking me in my heart where I’m happiest, I love playing with Tom Brady. I love being coached by Bill Belichick. People say, ‘Well, Moss you got traded to Minnesota from New England.’ Well, I just told you all this is a business and people have to understand the nature of the business. It’s not just a sport. The sport comes along with the business. If you really don’t think it’s a business, why are they sitting over here fighting over $9 billion?”
Moss, who cost the Vikings a third-round draft pick to acquire last season, is scheduled to be a free agent and made it sound like there wasn’t any team he would rule out playing for, including a return to the Vikings – which is highly improbable given his past two exits and new head coach Leslie Frazier’s desire to have a younger roster.
“Just to be point-blank and answer the question, I would love to come back to Minnesota. I don’t know about what they have in place, their quarterback position. I don’t know about the Williams brothers’ (Pat and Kevin) suspension. I don’t even know where Minnesota would be in Week 6 or Week 7,” he said. “I’m not downplaying me coming back to Minnesota. There’s a lot of things besides bringing Randy Moss back that has to happen for Minnesota to be successful. But I would entertain coming back to Minnesota.
Moss’ exit didn’t hit any player harder than Percy Harvin, who was upset that Childress released Moss.
“It definitely surprised us,” Harvin said after Moss’ release in November. “We kind of looked at (Childress) kind of like ‘Are you serious?’ It came out of nowhere. It caught a lot of us off guard. That’s Coach’s decision and, if he felt it was for the betterment of the team, then that’s what it is. …
“It’s tough, but the whole thing wasn’t my decision. We’re friends. We’ll remain friends. The things he taught me, I will continue to use that to help elevate my game. The only thing that has changed is that we’re not teammates, but we’re still in contact.”
Four months later, Moss said he is hoping to plan an offseason vacation with Harvin.
“I think that Percy has been a running back/wide receiver most of his whole life, so I think the respect and love he has for me was just what he’s heard and what he’s seen on the television. Now that we were in the same meeting rooms and we’re on the same field, same locker room together, I really didn’t want to bombard Percy with all the football knowledge that I think I have. But I just told him that I’ll leave my door open,” Moss said.
“I think our relationship grew a little bit off the field faster than it did on the field. I was definitely hurt by leaving there. … Not only was Percy hurt, I think I went into depression a little bit, man. But I had to suck it up. I had to be a man. I’ve got mouths to feed. I had to really take everything in stride and go on to Tennessee and try to make things work.
“… I’ve got love for that young fella. I think he can do some phenomenal things on the football field. But not only that, I think he’s a good person. I’ve still got love for ‘P’; I’ve still got love for you guys.”
Moss also talked about his relationship with Cris Carter, another Vikings receiver he played with. Carter mentored Moss shortly after Moss was drafted in 1998. Their relationship appeared to start strong but seemed to grow tense at times in their later years paired together, an impression Moss confirmed.
“Our relationship has definitely grew apart over the years,” Moss said. “But I think once you get older you don’t really live in the past. I think me and Cris Carter’s relationship is just fair, just average. I think that he still has respect and love for me and I have respect and love for him and just leave it at that … He helped me at the beginning of my career. Just by me being in his presence on the field I probably helped his career out late in his career.
“We have a lot to be thankful for, and not just on the football field. I’m thankful that Cris Carter was really put in my life early in my career because I think not having a veteran in my life, I don’t know really what direction I would have been in. Would I have won rookie of the year? Would I have scored 17 touchdowns? Would we have went to the NFC Championship? I don’t really know these things.”
Moss said he would eventually like to get into coaching, but not the time-consuming arena of professional football. He’d prefer to get into high school coaching down the road, but he stated his affection for his times in Minnesota at different junctures during the radio interview.
“That’s the Purple. I started out there and that’s just always something that’s always going to stay with me,” he said. “I may not retire a Viking, but the Vikings will always be in my heart.”
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.