Unhappy, or determined to prove his critics wrong?
In his first formal interview of the season, Moss lashed out at the gathered members of the media after reports came out last week that he was "unhappy" with the status of his contract and would leave the Patriots after this season.
"I never said I wanted to leave New England, there's a lot of things that are being written or being said that have people looking at me in a negative light. I don't want to be in a negative light. I want everybody to understand—you can print it, I don't care how you put it to ink—I want to be here with the Patriots."
Moss is in the final year of his contract, a three-year, $27 million deal he signed in 2008 with the Patriots after their loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
He's understandably ticked off at Patriots' ownership for not signing him to a new contract after several seasons of stellar play, especially after franchise quarterback Tom Brady received a four-year, $72 million extension that will make him the highest paid QB in the league.
But Moss wasn't addressing Patriots' owner Robert Kraft during his interview. He was addressing the press, the individuals who first stirred up this contract controversy.
"I think here in the New England area a lot of people don't want to see me do good. The reason why, I really don't know, I really don't care. But I just want to let you all know, you are the ones doing all the writing, you have the pad and ink, and I don't have anything. Anything that I may say will get blown out of proportion."
Moss is one of the most beloved figures on the Patriots' roster and a valued member of the offense, but he does have a point.
He's not quite Terrell Owens or Chad Ochocinco when it comes to instigating fights with the media, but he's still certainly someone the press loves to berate on a regular basis.
Throughout his NFL career, which will eventually go down as one of the greatest ever, Moss has piled up a collection of unfavorable incidents that have made him into a pariah in the eyes of the media.
- In 2002, Moss was involved in a traffic accident in Minneapolis where he knocked a traffic control officer to the ground. Moss was arrested and marijuana was also found in his car.
- In a regular season game in 2004 while with the Vikings, Moss walked off the field with two seconds remaining in the game. The Vikings lost to Washington 21-18.
- In 2005, Moss fake-mooned thousands of Green Bay Packers fans after scoring a touchdown.
- After being traded to the Patriots in 2007, reports came out from his former Oakland Raiders teammates and coaches about his lack of effort.
- Last season, Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble and safety Chris Harris accused Moss of giving up during the game.
All of these things happened, but they do not necessarily make him the selfish and lazy superstar that the media seems so fond of criticizing (there isn't a player in the NFL who doesn't take some plays off).
The difference between Moss and the rest of the NFL is that Moss isn't afraid to voice his opinion.
The unwritten rule of conduct in the league is that if you're unhappy with your current situation, then you keep it to yourself. But Moss is a 13-year veteran who is one of the most accomplished receivers in the history of the NFL. If he doesn't feel like he's being properly used and wants out, then it's his right to speak up.
The role of the media in this relationship is to report what he says, not to speculate on what he is feeling. Speculation breeds conspiracy, misinformation, and lies. That Randy Moss wants out of New England is a flat-out lie.
"I'm not saying that I want to stay here. But I love playing here. If the future of my job let's me go to another team, that's what it's going to be. Right now I'm still under contract to the New England Patriots and I have a job to do. I'm going to play my year out and do to the best of my ability."
The Patriots couldn't ask for more, and the media shouldn't either.
Now the media has an undeniable tendency to give dying stories legs even when they're not newsworthy. They love to drag these things out because it gives them an excuse to write something and the newspapers an excuse to print it.
So when Moss says he doesn't want to be discussing his contract and how "unhappy" he is late into the season, he's echoing the general sentiments of every player in the league.
By addressing the issue now, Moss is ensuring that he can be left alone and do what he does best—catch footballs.
The timing of it seems worse than it actually is, coming off the heels of a huge Patriots' victory and Brady's contract extension. But better now than later.
"Week 9, Week 10, Week 11, whenever down the road, I don't want this to fall back on my lap. This is Week 1 so I'm trying to get this out there right now. So everybody can print it, write it, and I don't have to copy it."
The press will have its fun now. Then they, and Moss, will move on and focus on more important things—like the Patriots winning games.
Or at least try to. But everyone knows that the media circus never really stops spinning. And at the moment the only fuel is this complete non-story.
There is nothing Moss can do to appease the press, and it's a shame such a great player has to endure this kind of scathing criticism. Hopefully when he retires, he'll be remembered for what he did on the field, rather than for what he said off it.