FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Whether Randy Moss committed "dating violence," as a Florida woman alleges in a court complaint that got her a temporary restraining order against him, or the New England Patriots receiver is a victim of a "six-figure … extortion" plot due to an "accident," as he claimed Wednesday, is impossible to know.
As often is the case with Randy G. Moss – as he's referred to in Broward County (Fla.) case DVCE08000315 – the details are sketchy, the facts few, the conclusions varied.
What's undeniable is that as the Patriots prepare to face the San Diego Chargers in the AFC championship game on Sunday, the circus that inevitably comes with Moss' brilliant catches finally came to town.
This is the flip side to all those long touchdown receptions and highlight-reel grabs. Whether Moss is the defendant or victim here, the fact remains there always seems to be a here.
"Throughout this whole season, everything has been positive," Moss said Wednesday amid a huge crowd of reporters. "Why would I bring something negative on? Come on.
"What we're trying to do, and hopefully what's going to happen if we do things right in the next month, as much as I care and love the game of football and love my teammates and coach, I would never put myself or them in a situation of something like this."
Whether he meant to or not, whether it is fair or not, he did.
According to Broward County court documents, Moss was hit on Monday with a temporary restraining order that prohibits him from coming within 500 feet of Rachelle Washington, 35, of Fort Lauderdale.
According to the Boston Herald, the court papers allege that during a Jan. 6 incident at Washington's Fort Lauderdale home, Moss committed "a battery upon (Washington) causing serious injury. (Moss) refused to allow (Washington) to seek medical treatment."
It also claims the two have had an "intimate relationship" that dates back 11 years and that Moss has a drug or alcohol problem.
Moss, 30, has not been charged with a crime and a Fort Lauderdale Police Department spokesperson said there was no report on the incident. However, a court hearing for the restraining order is scheduled on Jan. 28 – the start of Super Bowl week – in Fort Lauderdale.
Moss denied he hit Washington.
"I'm innocent," he said. "Battery? I didn't hit (any) woman. I've never laid my hands on a woman. So for you to say battery, now I think if there was such a thing in the court system as an accident, then that's what I'm guilty for. But for you to say I physically, or in an angry manner, or whatever the manner, put my hands on a woman physically, I've never done that."
Moss called Washington a "friend for 11 years" and didn't deny he was there that night or that Washington suffered some injury, although he wouldn't elaborate on what kind. He scoffed at the charge that he denied her from seeking medical attention.
"She lives in her own house and has her own vehicle, so how could I deny her medical attention," Moss said. "Does that make sense?"
Moss said he was being extorted and claimed "a man" representing Washington approached him last week and demanded "six figures" to keep the story from going public.
"It's something I've been battling for the last couple days, threats of going public if I didn't pay X amount of dollars," Moss said. "They called me, called my attorneys, trying to get X amount of dollars out of me, and if 'we don't get X amount of dollars' they were going to go to the press before this game."
Moss said he went to Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Friday and told him the story before it blew up. He sought his coach's advice and, predictably, Belichick's response was "to just focus on playing football," according to Moss.
The news conference got even stranger when Moss professed his love and friendship for Washington – although he noted the friendship was probably over.
"I don't wish anything bad on this woman. That's the love I have for her as a friend. Even though these allegations are false, or whatever she's claiming, I mean I really can't be mad at that, because if that's what she's doing, that's what she's doing.
"If she's hurt and she needs money, that's on her."
Then later, he offered this bizarre statement: "If I'm guilty, I am truly sorry and I am going to stand up for what is right, I really am."
At this point, only Moss and Washington know what happened, but the idea of Moss bringing a soap opera into the locker room during the week of the AFC championship game is a surprise to no one.
The buttoned-down Patriots organization, led by the tight-lipped Belichick, prides itself on its business-first attitude. Controversial players who struggled elsewhere have adjusted to the professionalism of the New England locker room and excelled on the field. Moss, who this year set the single-season NFL record for touchdown catches after two lackluster seasons in Oakland, is the latest example.
But now, suddenly, gone was the calm and quiet and here was Moss in the middle of a news conference so crazy even his teammates looked on with puzzlement.
"Hey, what happened with Randy?" asked one Patriot. "What's going on?"
"I don't know what it is," Donte' Stallworth said. "I don't care. We've had distractions before, so whatever."
Indeed, it may turn out to be a whatever, at least in terms of football. As much as this could be a distraction to the Patriots, it very well might amount to nothing.
If there was ever an organization that could shake this off, it is New England. Belichick is as likely to turn this into a motivational advantage for his team than allow it to become a distraction that could derail a perfect season.
Still, the other shoe finally dropped on the Patriots' big offseason acquisition. No matter his guilt or innocence, no matter her charges or his denials, no matter whether Moss is a gutless abuser or an innocent victim, the inevitable drama at last arrived.
Time will sort out the truth. Time will reveal the football impact.
But the Patriots brought in this talented guy with eyes wide open and now, at the worst possible time, they'll try to deal with the other half of their record-setting bargain.