Delightful delay for Moss, Patriots

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo! Sports

PHOENIX – The New England Patriots scored their first victory of Super Bowl week when in a courtroom on the other side of the country virtually nothing happened.

The scene at a Broward (Fla.) Circuit Court could have produced explosive allegations that neither the Patriots nor Randy Moss needed on the eve of Super Bowl media day. Instead it turned into an uneventful postponement of a restraining order hearing stemming from an early January domestic dispute.

Neither Moss nor his accuser was present. Neither was her once-bold talking former lawyer or even her new representation.

The hearing has been moved to the tranquility of March and the thousands of media here to hype the Super Bowl won't have anything new to badger Moss or his teammates with.

For the Patriots, there couldn't have been a much better development. Expect a virtually endless stream of "no comments" and "that's already been dealt with" this week.

"We're honestly hoping the matter can be resolved (out of court)," Moss' attorney, Richard Shapstein told the Boston Herald.

In terms of football, it doesn't matter now. Anything after this week was fine with the Patriots.

Moss was accused of committing "dating violence" on Rachelle Washington, a long-time friend. Washington's former attorney, David McGill, even accused Moss of not allowing her to seek medical treatment and, as detailed in court papers, being "too impaired" to properly recall what happened during the Jan. 6 incident.

McGill never said what Moss was supposedly impaired by, but that alone could have been a major news development.

Moss called it an "accident" and after the two sides went back and forth in six-figure settlement talks, Moss labeled the entire situation "extortion."

Even taking domestic violence as seriously as possible, Washington's story still had plenty of questions that needed answers. Moss, meanwhile, certainly helped his case with his vehement public denial, despite engaging in the settlement negotiations.

Only Washington and Moss know the truth, but this was a curious case from the start.

It was Washington's attorney, David McGill, who was the wild card. Before being replaced Monday, he had noisily promised plenty of fireworks concerning Moss' "reckless and degrading conduct" at this hearing.

It could have been just the kind of stuff that would have left Moss defending himself Tuesday in front of what is annually one the largest media throngs in the world.

You even had the aggressive New York newspapers with a vested interest in the game and, indeed, Moss' state of mind.

If the New York Post was willing to hire a Jessica Simpson look-alike to spook Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo during a playoff game against the New York Giants, what wouldn't it try here?

There was just no way a story involving domestic violence, "impairment" and an extortion triangle was slipping under the radar of the New York tabs. Fair or not, ugly or not, to say this could have taken on a life of its own is an understatement.

But instead, McGill has been replaced as Washington's attorney and isn't returning phone calls, so this story quickly fades into the background – replaced by breathless speculation over the health of Tom Brady's ankle.

Moss has a right to be furious with McGill, who flamed the fire, but in truth he should just be pleased this has quieted down.

There is no telling whether the entire ordeal has affected Moss or not. His on-field production has been down significantly since he was forced to tell his coach, Bill Belichick, about the situation on the eve of a playoff game against Jacksonville.

After setting a single-season NFL record for touchdown catches, he's caught just two passes, neither for a touchdown, in two playoff games.

Everything from the windy weather in New England to defensive commitments by opponents to shut down Moss at the expense of other threats has been offered as the reason. But the statistical juxtaposition remains. Moss has said little publicly in weeks.

For their part, Moss' teammates say he hasn't changed a bit even as the charges and possible extortion plan hung over his head. Lineman Matt Light said he was the same old Randy. Linebacker Junior Seau called him, "delightful."

If there was a distraction, no one is admitting it.

"He's been the same guy, he's kept a really level head," receiver Wes Welker said Monday. "He's been a very humble guy in the locker room."

Tuesday, he can be the same at media day, after a potential headache drifted away thousands of miles from here much to the Patriots' quiet delight.

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