Rambling Moss changes pattern
FOXBOROUGH — It would be overstating things to claim that we’ve never heard or seen anything like this before. We have, after all, seen Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch, and there was the night in Miami when Billy Sullivan yanked coach Chuck Fairbanks off the field before the start of a game. We watched Roger Clemens set himself on fire in Oakland and Don Zimmer make a bull rush for Pedro Martinez.
But as meltdowns go, this was one of the best. Think of it as Courtney Love meets Oil Can Boyd. Shake well, toss in some sodium pentothal, and you have . . . Randy Moss at the podium for 14 minutes after yesterday’s season-opening 38-24 thrashing of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Praise the Lord and pass the smelling salts. This was perhaps the most bizarro Patriots moment since Bill Belichick and Tom Brady triggered the run of success in 2001-02.
It was Chuck Berry playing “Johnny B. Goode’’ in the middle of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.’’ It was Otis the drunk careening into afternoon tea at the Mayberry Historical Society.
It was Oil Can Moss, spilling truths and taking names while the men from the Patriots’ public relations staff quaked in their wing-tips.
Some Moss highlights and talking points:
“Sometimes you want your boss to tell you you’re doing a good job . . . I don’t think me, personally, I’m appreciated . . . I’m not here to start any trouble. I’m here to play the last year out of my contract . . . This probably will be my last year as a Patriot . . . People just don’t like the way I carry myself . . . I don’t feel like I’m liked . . . I don’t want to take away from the win . . . For me to be offered a contract after the season is over is a smack in the face . . . I’m not here to start trouble . . . I don’t want this to be a negative . . . The only thing I can do is take care of me . . . It’s not that I’m mad or disgruntled, I’m hurt . . . I don’t want anything to come out of this negative like it usually does . . . I have a family to provide for.’’
It was all that and more.
The Patriots no doubt are shocked and chagrined. This kind of stuff simply does not happen in Foxborough. Gillette Stadium is a button-down world. Yesterday, on a day when the Patriots looked great on the gridiron, Gillette was a mosh pit. A Moss pit.
It came out of nowhere. This is Moss’s fourth season in New England and he’s never had a moment here like this. He has been a company man. He has been a team captain twice. He caught 23 touchdown passes in 2007. Fans embraced him. They said he was misunderstood. They defended him when he was compared with Manny Ramirez.
Moss has not said more than a sentence to the media since February. He made a remark about not feeling wanted to a reporter last week, but the dam burst yesterday.
It had been such a good day at Patriot Place. The Patriots routed the Bengals. Brady looked swell in the wake of his Thursday car crash and his new contract. Moss caught five passes for 59 yards, including a long-gainer of 32. Wes Welker completed his miraculous comeback from ACL surgery with eight catches and two touchdowns. It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
As always, Belichick was first to the stage after the win. As always, Bill handled questions with diplomacy and boredom. It was all good.
Brady was next. He looked terrific. He was in a great mood. He said the car crash and getting hit by NFL linemen produced the same jolt. He said, “I love being here.’’
Tom was still at the podium when Moss came toward him, stage left. Seeing Randy, Brady told the media, “Thank you,’’ opened his arms for a Moss man-hug, and took flight, happy to be done with the chore.
Moss looked great in a San Francisco Giants cap, which rested atop a red do-rag. His headphones were around his neck. He was ready to rip.
And rip he did. While repeatedly insisting that he did not want to take away from the victory, Moss put the spotlight on his disgruntled soul and made a footnote of the impressive win. He came to talk about Randy and he talked about Randy. He is a 13-year NFL veteran and is in the final year of a three-year, $27 million pact, but he is hurt because he does not have a contract extension.
Moss was measured in his manifesto. He did not raise his voice. He was not angry. But he was all over the map.
He was asked if he expected to be called into Belichick’s office today. He said he is prepared to explain how he feels to his coach. He was asked about his behavior at the Patriots’ annual charity event (Moss wore his headphones throughout and did not interact with anyone). He said he didn’t want to get into that, adding, “my music was whatever I wanted to listen to.’’ He was asked about his relationship with owner Robert Kraft and said it was “fair,’’ adding that Kraft isn’t around much during the week. He said he “prided my offseason in staying off Revis Island.’’
It was an amazing performance. And it will linger deep into next weekend when the Patriots play the hated Jets in the Meadowlands.
Welker was scheduled to follow Moss to the podium and waited patiently by one of the exit doors for more than five minutes while Moss continued his manifesto. The imagery was perfect. Welker, the warrior/team guy who stands for all things Patriot — was forced to stand and wait while Moss talked about his contract and his personal hurt.
Team Guy Welker disappeared for the final minutes of Me Guy Moss. When Moss finished, Welker returned to take questions from reporters who lingered.
A lot of the reporters were gone by then. Randy had left the building and taken the day with him.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.