One anonymous Hall of Fame voter cited by Florio provides a particularly harsh indictment of Moss: "He'd roll over and die like a dog for teams when they needed him most. He quit on his team in Minnesota. He quit for two years in Oakland. And he quit last year in New England."
Whoa. Tell us how you really feel.
Moss's transgressions as a teenager are well documented: Misdemeanor battery (in a racially charged incident), three nights in jail, probation violation (weed), more jail time. Dismissed from both Notre Dame and Florida St programs. All before the age of 20.
He's also had some brushes with law as an NFL player. Still, his rap sheet is nothing close to 2007 HOF inductee Michael Irvin's.
In fact, Moss's public record has been clean in the eyes of law since 2002, when he was 25 years old. Meanwhile, Irvin continued to add to his police blotter almost into his 40s.
As a football player, Irvin was extremely competitive, rallying his teammates and bending push off rules in order to win. (That's a good thing in my eyes. It's not like Jerry Rice and the 49ers never got away with picks on unsuspecting corners.) And let's not forget Irvin's Super Bowl rings.
But while it's easy for casual observers to question Randy Moss's attitude, let's face it, we don't really know how much pain the man plays with.
And does anyone really think "rolled over and died like a dog" is a good characterization of his play in Minnesota and New England? That's quite a few TDs and freakish, highlight reel footage...for a dead dog.
The man is second in NFL history in receiving TDs. For goodness sake, why aren't teams drafting more dead dogs like Randy Moss?
The fact is, we don't really know how much he's quit on his team.
We do know, fewer teammates have bashed him than Brett Favre.
We also know that he himself has volunteered for the record, "I play when I want to play."
But are we indicting him because he's the only player who does that, or because he's the only player dumb enough to say it?
He's said and done some other distasteful things as a football player. I didn't like it when he ran off the field two seconds before the final gun, then shrugged it off rather than coming clean. His agent really should have counseled him on making a better effort to craft his public image.
But despite the public's sometimes harsh judgment of Randy Moss the football player and teammate, an overwhelming majority of his current and ex-teammates have said good things about the man. As an actual teammate.
That's good enough for me. It helps me separate what he's done in bad taste, as opposed to truly bad things he's done as a teammate.
In the end, would I be surprised if Moss had to wait an extra year or two before getting into the HOF? Not at all.
I've said before, many NFL management, fans, and writers seemingly would support changing the league's initials to PFL, the Puritanical Football League. For whatever reason, they are much quicker to judgment when it comes to football players than NBA players, or entertainers in general.
For example, I've never figured out why someone would take their kids to see a Tim Allen movie, but get all worked up over Moss's antics. Allen spent a couple of years in prison after getting arrested with enough coke to put him behind bars for life. Does that sound like a better role model than Randy Moss?
Personally, I like both men as entertainers. But if I were going to don my Church Lady hat, probably I'd put more effort into screening which Disney star entertains my kids, before I gave up on a guy with Moss's history.
By the way, in 1999 Allen was inducted into Disney's version of the Hall of Fame, the Disney Legends. That was two years after a DUI conviction, in his mid-40s. I suppose he had to endure some harsh public criticism for that induction, at least from entertainment writers who look up to the Church Lady.
I do think off the field actions should be considered by Hall voters. But when Randy Moss's turn comes up, I hope the voters can remember how the real experts have judged the man.
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