When I was a young kid, my friends and I used to laugh at the commentators doing wrestling. We would notice the unbelievable bias of all the commentators. When Ray 'Big Bossman' Traylor was a bad guy, the commentators would get all upset if he beat up an opponent with a night stick.
But if he was a good guy, the announcers would laugh and say that he was just bringing a little law and order to the ring. If Jake 'The Snake' Roberts whipped out his snake after applying the DDT to someone, it was either appalling or something to be applauded, depending on which role Roberts was currently playing.
Now fast-forward to 2008, and you will see the same kind of brilliant analysis from many in the sports media. The media either labels you as a good guy or a bad guy. If you are a good guy and a patron of your bar is suing you because he was shot while attending your bar, it is OK because the story will not get any publicity.
Who cares if it was your gun that was used in this shooting? You play for quiet and reserved Tony Dungy, and you are soft spoken; this story will get as much publicity as Phil Donahue’s return to TV a few years back.
Now if that was Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson, ESPN would have everyone from Rachel Nichols to Roger Cossack to Dr. Joyce Brothers camped outside that bar, with updates, analysis FBI profilers and opinions and legal angles and anything else you can think of. But it is not the case, since this is Marvin Harrison and he is one of the good guys.
This, of course, brings me to Randy Moss.
We all know Randy Moss is one of the awful people in the NFL. He is what the media likes to call a 'lightning rod.' When Moss accepted less money to stay in New England this offseason, there were no stories from the 'experts' about what loyalty Moss was displaying to his team.
After last season’s disappointing finish, Moss felt there was unfinished business for the Patriots, and Moss wanted to be part of another run at a title. The national media can be forgiven for missing this story because while this was going down, Ultimate Good Guy Brett Favre was holding the Packers organization hostage for the third straight year and trying to dictate to management how they should run their team.
ESPN did everything short of creating another network to follow this story.
We all know what happened on opening day of this season. Tom Brady went down with a season-ending injury and most 'experts' agreed it was only a matter of time before Randy Moss imploded and caused a megadistraction on this year’s team.
He was going to mail in the season and create huge distractions in the usually harmonious Patriots locker room. He was going to be a huge problem for Head Coach Bill Belichick.
Well, here we are in Week 13, and Randy Moss has been a model citizen. He has publicly supported the new QB. He has had some huge games (three TDs against Miami). When he has only had a few balls thrown his way, he has not complained about lack of touches.
He has been seen on the sidelines, being the head cheerleader for the defense. When No. 3 Wideout Jabar Gaffney dropped a potential game-changing touchdown pass against the Colts a few weeks back, Randy Moss publicly supported him, told him to go home, kiss his family, and come back ready to play the following week.
When seldom used Sam Aiken caught a wide receiver screen a few weeks back, No. 81 ran past the ball carrier to throw a key block to spring a huge gain (I have tried to find the footage of this play, but cannot...trust me, if Good Guy Hines Ward had done it, they would have stopped the game and had an on-field ceremony).
In a key game against the Steelers, the Patriots, after an encouraging first half, played perhaps their worst half of football all year long and got blasted by the Steelers in a messy Foxborough Stadium.
Moss had a few uncharacteristic drops in this game, including one in the end zone. Surely, this is where Moss was going to snap and show his evil side. Let’s see what he had to say after the game:
“Speaking for myself, I’m very disappointed in my play,” said Moss. “(Coach) Bill (Belichick) says time and time again to do your job. As a wide receiver, your job is to get open, catch the ball and score touchdowns. I didn’t have a good game and I put a lot of the blame on myself.
"The team really looks to me to do my job week in and week out. I don’t want to blame it on the rain or the weather. The balls were there and they weren’t caught. It’s something that is going to bother me until Sunday. It does hurt, it’s a bad taste.”
What a selfish jerk! Here is what else he had to say:
“Once you start catching, you get into a rhythm, you start feeling good,” said Moss, who was limited to two catches for one yard in the second half. “But once you drop one ball, you drop another, it starts to affect you mentally. But that’s why they call us professionals because we’re supposed to let the bad go and get back to playing football. A couple of bad things happened and it just trickled on down,” he said.
“There was some bad football out there and a lot of the blame for it, I’m putting on myself.”
Oh My Goodness, can we get rid of this guy! What a typical selfish athlete! His teammates must all hate him!
Look, I am not saying Randy Moss is a saint. I am not saying he has not made mistakes. Some of those mistakes were overblown (Joe Buck thought a fake mooning of the Green Bay fans was justification for permanent banishment from the league, and perhaps from the planet altogether).
All I am saying is that it is time that the media covers the games, and not try to paint labels on the players, good guy, bad guy, selfish guy, team guy. Everything is not black and white. Randy Moss may have done some immature things in Minnesota.
He may have acted out in Oakland in an effort to get traded; I do not think Gandhi would have been able to play wide receiver with patience with what was going on in Oakland during that period.
All I know is that his prior acts have been overblown, and since being in New England, he has been a great player and a great teammate. It would be nice if the national media realized that he has changed. Perhaps they could write an article praising his maturity and his leadership skills. Maybe he has matured.
Maybe he has just found a coach and a QB he respects. Maybe he thinks he has found his ideal situation in New England. I know going against the norm may require some independent thinking, but c’mon media, I know you can do it. Open your eyes and see what is happening.
Randy Moss has always been a great player, but now it looks like he is also a great teammate. He is not all bad. Heck, even Jake 'The Snake' got to fluctuate between good and bad throughout his career.
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