Patriots getting on with their business
FOXBOROUGH — On the first day of the post-Randy Moss era, the Patriots showed up for practice and went about their business, just the way Bill Belichick expected they would after Moss was shipped to the Vikings Wednesday for a third-round pick.
The transaction initially stunned many in the Patriots locker room, but the shock gave way yesterday to the reality that it was a business decision.
Even Moss, who has 12 games remaining on the final season of a three-year, $27 million contract, acknowledged as much when asked yesterday if it hurt him to be traded by the Patriots.
“I was more hurt when I got traded from [Minnesota],’’ Moss said during his news conference at the Vikings practice facility. “When I got traded from New England, it was more of an understanding. I said it time and time again that it’s not football, it’s a business.’’
“That’s how you got to look at it,’’ said nose tackle Vince Wilfork, one of Moss’s close friends on the Patriots. “I was very fortunate to get to play with a guy like Randy and to get the chance to get to know him as a person.
“Great person, great athlete. I mean, probably one of the greatest athletes. His game, his personality, how he approaches the game.
“It’s a classic case of business. It happens all the time, but we’re going to keep rolling. I’m pretty sure Randy is going to keep doing what he has to do in Minnesota, but one thing is for sure, we’re friends forever.’’
Although there were reports that Moss had clashed with quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien at halftime of Monday night’s victory in Miami, Belichick said at an impromptu news conference yesterday morning at Gillette Stadium that he never had a disciplinary issue with Moss over three-plus seasons.
“It’s a combination of factors,’’ Belichick said. “But I would say this: There was never any incident or discipline problem with Randy. And it certainly wasn’t about contract and money. I think Randy showed and proved the first year he was here what that was all about.’’
Belichick was referring to Moss taking a substantial pay cut when he was acquired from the Raiders in 2007.
Wilfork disputed the remarks of former teammate Tedy Bruschi, now an ESPN analyst, who characterized Moss as a “distraction’’ in the locker room.
“Our locker room is our locker room,’’ Wilfork said. “We never had an issue, and I can’t remember an issue that we had. I don’t know what Tedy was bringing up, but it was not an issue in this locker room.’’
Belichick said he last spoke with Moss Wednesday morning.
“Our conversation was consistent with what they’ve been over the last four years: honest, open, very forthright,’’ he said. “We talked about a lot of things, which I will keep between Randy and myself.
“In the end, it was a difficult decision, but one that I feel is in the best interests of the football team.’’
On the surface, at least, the team interests didn’t seem served by jettisoning a future Hall of Famer, leaving Tom Brady to look elsewhere for a deep threat to go along with Wes Welker, Brandon Tate, and rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez.
“Obviously, Randy is a great deep threat and you’ve always got to account for him,’’ said Welker. “At the same time, it’s about beating man coverage and getting open and that’s just the way it is.
“Yeah, personally, I benefited from playing with Randy and I’m going to benefit from playing with these other guys who like to compete out here.’’
Brady was not available for comment in the locker room, but in an excerpt released by the team from his interview with “Patriots All Access,’’ he said, “Randy really knows how I feel about him. I love him as a guy, as a person, as a player. At the same time, I think Coach Belichick feels that’s what he needs to do for the team, so we as players, we deal with it and we move on.
“I think I’ve been around long enough to realize that nothing really surprises me, and the best thing for me to do is to be the best quarterback that I can be for the team.’’
When the Patriots host Moss and the Vikings Oct. 31, Wilfork said, “I do want to beat him. From a personal standpoint, a good guy. But that’s business.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.