(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)
Just win, baby. Never was that popular phrase more evident than with Oakland’s signing of oft-troubled receiver Randy Moss on Wednesday.
Al Davis doesn’t care if Moss pretends to show his butt to an opposing crowd, as long as he’s in the endzone. Heck, the Raiders don’t even care if Moss shows his butt off the field, as long as he’s living up to his potential as the Jerry Rice of the new millennium on it.
I’ve mentioned in this space before about how I feel Moss was wasting his talent. That his self-serving antics obscured his offensive brilliance between the hash marks. When properly motivated, there’s not a better receiver in the game. Sorry T.O.
You would be right in saying he shouldn’t have to be motivated. That he gets paid lots of cheese to play a game for a living, and that should be motivation enough to live up to expectations.
But sometimes a player wears out his welcome in a city, or the city just wears out its welcome with the player. Whichever the case, a change usually has to be made for the good of both.
Enter the Raiders.
Oakland has a long history of breaking little hearts like the one in me (sorry, just had a Pat Benatar flashback).
Seriously, Oakland is famous (or is it notorious) for accepting players who have been cast off from their original teams, for one reason or another, and milking All-Pro seasons out of them.
The list is long: Lyle Alzado, Jim Plunkett, John Matuszak, Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson; we could be here all day.
I would add Kerry Collins to that list if I thought he was any good. I’m still not sold on the former Giant, who throws as many picks as touchdowns, but Moss will provide a huge target for him to throw it to.
The Raiders vaunted downfield game has been stuck in first gear lately, so maybe Randy will bring back the days of Stabler to Branch. The rest of the AFC is unfamiliar with Moss, and I expect the former Marshall man to light the league up next year.
That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m punching Oakland’s ticket for the Super Bowl, but they should at least be in contention for the AFC West title.
If they can find a running game, which they pretty much gave up for Moss when they traded the number seven overall pick.
Just think, I could have been in football heaven if the Raiders could have selected Ronnie Brown or Cadillac Williams.
Oh well, I guess I can’t have it all, so I’ll be happy to take Moss from Minnesota. Thanks Mr. McCombs!
Now you other fans out there can claim all you want how you wouldn’t want Moss on your team because of this or that, and I won’t argue with you.
Thing is, I was saying the exact same stuff around November or December. But now the cleat is on the other foot. I’ll gladly take my foot out of my mouth if Moss catches 1500 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Him simply being on the field will open up things for Jerry Porter, one of the most underrated receivers in the game.
Porter must have finally felt he was getting his shot after years of playing behind Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. He was the man last year, it was just too bad reigning MVP Rich Gannon was lost for the season in the early weeks, and Collins played more like Joan instead of Kerry.
For his part, Porter is already playing the role of selfless good guy, saying that everyone will just have to check their egos at the door and have the ball distributed equally.
That’s either very promising, or doublespeak for “I just got a $20 mil extension, I better get the *@!$ ball.”
Either way, it’s good to be a Raider fan right now.
And it will be, until we find out Moss’ ankle is arthritic and he just ran over another cop.
Just win baby!