FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Randy Moss(notes) and the New England Patriots had just delivered a resounding 38-24 season-opening victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, looking nothing like the listless bunch that got blitzed out of the playoffs last January.
Quarterback Tom Brady(notes) had shaken off a Thursday car accident to throw for 258 yards and three touchdowns. The shaky offensive line had jelled to protect and run block. And Moss' fellow wide receiver, Wes Welker(notes), had returned just 252 days after tearing apart his knee and caught eight inspirational passes, including two for touchdowns.
There were a million things for Moss to discuss postgame Sunday, including his own five-catch, 59-yard effort. Or he could've had no media session at all. Since he was, by no means, the story of the game, he wasn't in high demand.
Instead he chose an inopportune time to deliver a convoluted speech about how he's "hurt" over not having his contract extended and how he believes this will be his last season with the Patriots, yet fans shouldn't take it the wrong way.
Although, he's not all that sold on all the "fans."
"Around here in the New England area, I think a lot of people don't want to see me do good," said Moss, who stated last week that he felt unwanted. "The reason why, I don't know and I don't really care."
That was essentially the poorly chosen opening remark of a sloppy, meandering 15-minute news conference. There's nothing like slapping the audience before trying to win them over.
"I want you all to know [media] and the fans, the real fans, to know that I'm not here to start any trouble," Moss said. "I'm here to play my last year out on my contract."
Oh, boy. Terrell Owens(notes) and Chad Ochocinco(notes) were down the hall in the Bengals locker room managing to be relatively un-divalike despite a frustrating defeat. So leave it to Moss to step into the role and turn the spotlight not just on himself, but on a contract "controversy" that few were even discussing.
This was painful to watch.
Moss' general point was actually sound. He wants to be appreciated by his bosses (who doesn't?) and believes that given his value to the franchise he shouldn't have to play out his final year of the contract (probably true). He feels a renegotiation should've been done (after all, it was for Brady, not that Moss mentioned Brady by name). And if not, perhaps management could at least hint that it might want him around.
"There hasn't been anything discussed," Moss said. "There hasn't been anything said. Not a letter, not nothing. … I'm hurt."
If so, that's a poor job by Bill Belichick, who knows there's an emotional personality inside that No. 81 jersey.
Moss can't complain about weak communication though. Not after this speech. Whatever reasonable ideas he was trying to communicate will likely be missed by those who will see him as another me-first rich guy ruining the victory celebration. All he did was strengthen management's hand.
Under different circumstances, Moss' position could've been delivered in a favorable manner. He might even have elicited some everyman sympathy. Instead he's likely to get raked over the coals. He even said he knew this would probably break bad for him.
Moss hasn't been shy about conveying his feelings to the media the past week.
"My 13th year in the league," he noted. "Whatever I say may be blown out of context or taken out of proportion."
In his 13th year in the league, he should've known better.
Anyone with a sense of public relations would know Sunday was a day to let Welker, the perfect receiving ying to Moss' yang, have his day in the sun. If you want to talk contract do it during the offseason. Or sit down for a midweek interview with a single outlet where the point can be driven home. Or find a sympathetic writer to make the case for you without your words being quoted.
This is PR 101.
In Moss' mind though, the big victory wasn't reason to delay expressing himself, it was a reason to get it out there. He kept noting that this way he could express his hurt feelings and not be blamed for a poor outing or a team loss.
"I don't want to take away from the win," he said. "But I don't want to be Week 10, Week 11, Week 12 and we're still sitting here talking about a contract.
"Every week is not going to be good for me. I don't want to wait until Week 9, Week 10, Week 11 then I have a bad game now the tables turn on me 'Oh, he doesn't want to be here.' That's what I don't want to happen."
So it was all about Randy. He knew this would come across wrong. He just figured it would be worse later.
Moss was right about one thing Sunday: The NFL is about business. "Football leaves you in college and high school. This is a job. And if you understand the nature of this job then you understand where I'm coming from."
If you understand the nature of any business, you know they spend a great deal of time and money planning on how to get their message out.
None of them would ever do it like Randy Moss, who unfortunately doesn't know quite as much about the business of the NFL as he thinks. He's really not that bad a guy. He just plays one in news conferences.