Note: This post is my contribution to a feature created by MCBias of Moderately Cerebral Bias. After you are finished here, check out his take on an NFL myth.
Ever been young and stupid and it cost you a job? Yeah, me too.
Ever partook in chemical substances you weren't supposed to have? Yeah, me too.
Ever despised your place of employment to the point of disinterest? Yeah, me too.
Ever had those days where you didn't feel like working? Yeah, me too.
Although these behaviors are perfectly normal and even tolerated in the general workforce, as fans we abhor them in athletes. Athletes are supposed to be overachievers, striving for excellence in their profession. The idea of "taking a day off" is inconceivable and intolerable on the field of play, despite our own penchants for long lunches, necessary smoke breaks, or skipping class. This is our double standard. Because of it, we fail to understand that Randy Moss is more like us than we would like to believe.
Unfortunately, fans and the mainstream media tend to lump all controversial players together. No doubt Moss has seen his share of controversy. But has he ever reached the level of distraction of a Terrell Owens or a PacMan Jones? The only incident that might compare would be his traffic citation in 2002, and even that was minor.
Other than his vehicular run-in, what is Moss guilty of? Leaving the field with seconds remaining on the clock? Ok, have you ever left work early only to have your co-workers get slammed with work after you left? The next day, you apologize. Problem solved.
Of course, any discussion of Moss wouldn't be complete without mentioning the "mooning incident". If you haven't read the defense of that, check out Tony Dungy's quote in this article.
As for Moss's lack of effort in Oakland, sorry Raiders' fans, but he didn't want to be there. Right or wrong, it happens. Recent sports history is littered with athletes who hold out, demand trades, or refuse to play until they are relieved of their contract status. Moss was on the field for most of his time with the Raiders. Personally, I am the same way, to quote Moss, when "I'm unhappy and I'm not too much excited about what's going on, ... my concentration and focus level tend to go down". And I didn't have to play for those dreadful Raiders teams.
Now that Moss is in New England, look for him to continue putting up big numbers. He is in a positive environment in a successful program and rubbing elbows with other top-level co-workers. Tom Brady, Rodney Harrison, etc. will continuously challenge Moss to maintain his high level of ability. Football will be fun again for Randy Moss. Just as you and I would work more productively in a challenging environment among peers who are not only fun to be around, but push you to be better.
And if you are still convinced Randy Moss is on the level of Tank Johnson, Chris Henry, and other NFL ne'er-do-wells, take a moment to read this article, you might change your mind.
As for me, my only gripe with Randy Moss is that I wish he had stayed at Florida State ...