Shutdown Corner - NFL

If Randy Moss(notes) doesn't give up on this play, Brett Favre(notes) doesn't get injured. And if Brett Favre doesn't get injured, maybe the Minnesota Vikings go on to beat the New England Patriots and maybe Moss doesn't give his bizarre, postgame self-conference and maybe the Vikes are 3-4 today and thinking playoffs instead of sitting in the NFC North cellar at 2-5. And maybe Randy Moss would still have a job.

But Randy Moss did quit on the play. And on Monday, the Minnesota Vikings quit on him, making plans to cut the four-time All-Pro in a stunning move that was undoubtedly accelerated by his antics the prior evening. Coach Brad Childress informed the team of Moss' release during a team meeting on Monday while the receiver was still in Boston (he was granted permission to stay in the city after the game). Moss' name wasn't on the waiver wire on Monday, so the earliest his release could become official is Tuesday.

[Photo: More images of Randy Moss' final game as a Viking]

Mike Lombardi of the NFL Network first broke the story. Later in the day, Lombardi reported that the Vikings front office was as surprised as anyone by the decision to cut ties with Moss. That development can't bode well for Childress and his coaching future.

In an email to the Minnesota Star Tribune, Moss' agent said his client was saddened by the decision:

"Randy is very sad to find out about being waived by the Vikings this morning. He has and always will remain fond of the fans in Minnesota. We will let the process of the waiver wire take its course and we will move on from there."

Moss had played in just four games for the Vikings since he was traded by the New England Patriots. He will be placed on waivers where teams ordered by reverse won-loss record will have a chance to put in a claim on him. If no team does, Minnesota would be on the hook for his salary.

This play nearly sums up Moss' brief stint with the Vikings. The talent is still there, but the effort and dedication were suspect.

Even with Merriweather's interference, that should have been an easy touchdown. Moss lost his balance upon contact, but quickly regained his footing. If he had kept running and put out his arms instead of loafing, he scores with ease. Instead, he slowed to a jog and seemed to avoid the ball as it descended on the goal line (it's particularly noticeable on the replay that begins 24 seconds into the clip). Whatever the reason for quitting on the play, Moss cost his team a touchdown.

In the box score, the damage was negligible. Four plays after Moss dogged it, the Vikings scored a touchdown. After a successful two-point conversion, the Patriots' lead was narrowed to three points. But the box score doesn't tell the whole story.

[Video: Randy Moss goes rogue in postgame press conference]

After the play in question and before the touchdown, Brett Favre was hit by Myron Pryor(notes) and had to be carted off the field. That injury never happens if Randy Moss catches that touchdown pass. And if that injury never happens, perhaps the Vikings defense makes a stand on the next Patriots drive and the Vikings get the ball back and go on to victory. (True, Favre doesn't play defense, but don't tell me the sight of their quarterback getting carted off the field didn't demoralize the Vikings.) Or maybe everything happens the exact same way and the Vikings still lose. I don't know.

What I do know is that Randy Moss gave up on that play, gave a bizarre press conference afterwards and now he's out of a job. It wasn't just the play, or just the press conference, it was a combination of those things, plus all the baggage that Moss brought with him to Minnesota. His actions on and off the field seemed to be those of a man who was all but begging for his release.

Up until Sunday, his talent made the drama worth putting up with. Not anymore.

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