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Randy Moss: From star to afterthought with 49ers

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Randy Moss: From star to afterthought with 49ers

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Randy Moss strolled to the podium on Super Bowl media day - his 49ers hat tilted slightly to the left, his sleeves rolled up high to reveal a cross tattooed on one arm, a large ``R'' tattooed on the other.

He carried himself very much like the star he once was.

``I don't know how many questions I'm gonna give you,'' he barked to reporters, before breaking into a smile. ``So go ahead.''

Then, for the next hour or so, he was the center of attention - a role he seemed perfectly suited for, even though he kept saying over and over that he just wants to be treated like anyone else.

Moss proclaimed himself ``the greatest receiver ever to play this game.'' He urged all the coaches out there to listen to their players every now and then.

``I'm me,'' Moss declared. ``I just do it my way. That's just how I feel. I don't try to be better than the next man, or break any laws or any rules. Nothing like that. But what do I believe in? I believe in myself. That's just the way I've always done it.

``I know,'' he quickly added, ``there's some people out there who like me, and I know there's a lot of people out there who don't. For what reason, I don't know and don't really care.''

Moss was once the NFL's most dominant receiver, but those days are long past. He's 35 now, clearly on the downside of a career that actually seemed over a year ago. After bouncing around to three different teams in 2010, he didn't play at all last season. But, he wasn't ready to walk away from the sport just yet - and San Francisco gave him a chance to come back for another shot at the ring.

There was one big caveat: Moss would no longer be the center of the offense.

The 49ers had plenty of others - from receiver Michael Crabtree to tight end Vernon Davis to running back Frank Gore. Now that Colin Kaepernick has taken over at quarterback, it's easy to forget that No. 84 is even on the field. Sure, Moss is savoring the 49ers run to the Super Bowl, where they'll face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, but he's still struggling to get his arms around the idea of being an afterthought on the field.

``I've always considered myself a playmaker,'' he said. ``Blocking? Yeah, I understand that's part of the game. Me going out to be decoy? Yeah, I know that's part of the game. But for me not to be out here making plays is something I just don't understand.''

Then, he remembered why he's here.

``If that's going to win me a ring,'' Moss said, ``yeah, I accept that.''

He came oh-so-close during the 2007 season, teaming with Tom Brady to lead New England to an unbeaten regular season and two more wins in the playoffs. Then, in the game that really mattered, the high-powered Patriots were shut down in the Super Bowl by the New York Giants, who rallied for a stunning 17-14 upset after David Tyree - not Moss - made a catch that left everyone in awe.

It's a game Moss has never bothered to watch on video. It's a game that sticks with him to this day - and probably will forever, even if the 49ers win on Sunday.

``There's just something about `07, being undefeated going into a Super Bowl and losing it like that,'' he said. ``I'll never forget that moment because it's not fun when you're sweating and you have confetti dropping down and sticking to your face and knowing that you're not on the winning side of the confetti.''

Surely, someone asked, winning this time would ease the pain from five seasons ago.

Not so, Moss replied.

``If I win this one, that means I could have had two,'' he said. ``That's something I'll never forget.''

Moss' last big season came with the Patriots in 2009, when he had 83 receptions for 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns. The following year was a mess, largely of his own making.

His days in New England were numbered before the season opener when Moss complained about not getting a contract extension and said he didn't feel wanted. After week four, he was traded back to Minnesota, his original team, but that didn't last, either. Moss griped about then-coach Brad Childress and was waived, finishing out the dismal, miserable campaign in Tennessee.

Not surprisingly, no one jumped at the chance to offer Moss a job in 2011.

It looked as though retirement had arrived, whether he wanted it or not.

Moss used the off year to reconnect with his children, to get in some fishing, to watch some games on Sundays. But he also shed some tears, pained at the idea of ending his career before he was ready to go. He made sure to stay in shape, just in case someone wanted to give him another chance.

``I love this game of football so much,'' Moss said. ``I don't like everything that comes with it, but going out on the field between the white lines and playing football is something I've always done. I've been doing it since I was 6 years old. For me to be able to just walk away from the game, knowing that I wasn't ready, mentally or physically, it really hurt me, man. It really depressed me.''

Then came a call from the 49ers, who had come up just short of the Super Bowl during his season away. They felt Moss was one of those players who might help them get over the hump - not so much for what he could do on the field, but the impact he might have on the youngsters in the locker room.

Moss started only two games, finishing with 28 catches, 434 yards and three TDs. But he had the desired impact on Crabtree and Kaepernick, passing on his many experiences to those who will carry the franchise into the future.

``One thing that impressed me the most about Randy is the way that he works with all the other guys, and not even just the receivers,'' 49ers fullback Bruce Miller said. ``He's so knowledgeable about the game of football that he coaches other positions and has all kinds of tips and reminders for everyone.''

As the Superdome clock ticked down to zero, indicating the 49ers' hour-long media session was over, Moss continued to chat away at the podium.

Finally, Davis came over to pull him away.

It was almost as if Moss wanted to cling to the spotlight as long as possible.

``It's been fun,'' he said. ``But I've got to go.''

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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USA Today Sports Images

Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

PODCAST: WIZARDS MAKE A FREE AGENT SIGNING

The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

RELATED: DURANT MAKES HUGE DONATION TO PG COUNTY SCHOOLS

Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.