Over the past five days, Moss has been told by not one, but two teams that they preferred someone else over him. In both cases, it was someone Moss thought he was better than. When the New England Patriots traded for Chad Ochocinco(notes) and the New York Jets signed Plaxico Burress(notes), Moss decided to take his Hall-of-Fame talent and go home.
Never mind that plenty of teams around the league think Moss has something left in the tank and could be helpful to their cause, they weren't the right teams for Moss. He either wanted to go back to the Patriots – a proposition that one source close to Moss said was still alive last week – or go to New York, where he could play for coach Rex Ryan and make a last push for some post-career marketing dollars. A Patriots deal has always seemed like a creation of Moss' imagination, as if his dissing of the owner and his laconic play were suddenly going to be forgiven.
The rumor of Moss to the Jets, however, seemed to have legs, fed by Ryan's willingness to embrace rogue characters. For the first few days of free agency, Moss sat quietly as the Jets signed wideout Santonio Holmes(notes) and flirted with star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha(notes). Sure, those guys were big-ticket items, but when the Jets signed Burress, Moss went into serious malfunction. Yeah, he may not have played well last year, but Burress hadn't played at all in two years. You couldn't even justify age as a difference. Moss is only six months older than Burress.
The problem is that Moss is no longer the guy who can toss napalm around a locker room and still play on Sunday. His talent doesn't outweigh the drama anymore. Both the Patriots and Minnesota Vikings told Moss that last season. He ended up playing out the string with Tennessee, reduced to a footnote as Vince Young's(notes) career imploded.
[Related: Career stats for Randy Moss]
This offseason, agent Joel Segal tried to spread the gospel that Moss was working out harder than ever to prove he still had plenty left in the tank. Yet, less than a week into free agency, Moss "has weighed his options and considered the offers and has decided to retire," as Segal said Monday.
Sure, and I have weighed my options and decided that I should be in People's 50 Most Beautiful this year.
In three weeks, when Moss gets bored and annoyed that nobody is all that broken up about his retirement, he'll return. That's my bet, although I hope I'm wrong. I hope Moss really tells the NFL to shove it and disappears from public view, not even coming up for air when he gets voted into the Hall of Fame.
I say that not because I find Moss annoying. Quite the contrary, for when Moss is playing well he is one of the greatest shows in the history of the game, a legacy worth preserving. Here's a stat few people pay much attention to: In 11 of Moss' first 12 seasons, he had at least one catch of 60 yards or longer. In the one season (2006) he didn't, he had a 51-yard long. Jerry Rice did that in nine of his first 10 years. Bob Hayes, the original deep threat, did it in six of his first seven. Don Hutson did that six times in 11 years. Lance Alworth did it in each of his first nine seasons, then never again.
Ochocinco? Five times in 10 years. Burress? Three times in nine.
"Randy doesn't run any routes, he either runs deep or he runs a crossing pattern," Harris said. "What Randy does is try to lull you to sleep. He'll run at different speeds sometimes to make you think he's part of the play or not part of the play. Then, when he thinks he has you, he just runs past you."
Of course, a lot of people missed that fact, believing that Moss was a malingerer. That's a misinterpretation. Sure, Moss was difficult to deal with at times. He quit on the Oakland Raiders when he got tired of coach Norv Turner's weakness in the face of Al Davis. He was a jerk in two spots last year and basically ended up wasting a year of his career.
But for most of his 13 seasons, Moss was one of those rare guys who was simply better than everybody else. He was a freak, a physical marvel. If not for a miracle catch by David Tyree(notes) in Super Bowl XLII, Moss would have helped New England go undefeated. Instead of railing against him as a malcontent, we would be talking about who's going into the Hall with him.
Instead, Moss is now a caricature, a guy who isn't worth the annoyance at this point. As much as he'd like you to believe he's going out on his own terms, he's not. Furthermore, he's probably not going out at all.
Just give it a few weeks.
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