This weekend, Randy Moss goes into the Hall of Fame. He's probably more Viking than Patriot, but some of his most indelible moments came with the Patriots in 2007 when he set the single-season touchdown reception record (23) and was part of the most prolific offense in NFL history to that point.
Twice, Moss came damn close to having his signature NFL play happen in Super Bowl 42. First, he caught a 6-yard dart from Tom Brady to put the Patriots ahead 14-10 with 2:42 to play. Then, in the closing seconds, a 75-yard javelin throw from Brady that would have put the Patriots in field goal position, ticked off Moss' fingers.
Without either, Moss' New England tenure becomes a little more difficult to define. Brilliant. Iconic. Enigmatic. Maddening. Like Moss himself.
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Even the backstory to Moss' becoming a Patriot is fascinating. We spoke to Mike Lombardi on Quick Slants the Podcast this week -- you can click and listen at the end of this story -- and the former Raiders "Senior Personnel Executive" said that dealing Moss to the Patriots cost him his job with the Raiders.
"I got fired because I told Bill Belichick that (Moss) could still run," Lombardi explains. "And Al got mad at me because I told Bill that. I still can't figure out why Al got mad at me when Al wanted to trade (Moss), but that might require a whole different book."
Lombardi's first book, Gridiron Genius, will be released September 18. It will detail Lombardi's years working alongside three of the game's greatest minds, Belichick, Davis, and Bill Walsh.
Hit the podcast link to hear Lombardi's discussion of those three and, specifically, Belichick.
It was that link to Belichick that made Al Davis color the Moss trade as a Lombardi double-cross.
"You know how many teams turned [Moss] down,?" Davis asked reporters after a bizarre press conference where Davis fired Lane Kiffin. "That guy in Green Bay [Ted Thompson] thought he couldn't run anymore. Even Denver, where they'll take anybody, turned him down.
"But what's his name (Lombardi) knew he could run, he's a friend of Belichick's. Mike Lombardi," said Davis. "Mike sold what's his name, Belichick, on the idea that he could run. They tampered with him. I remember Bob Kraft saying that he had to look him in the eye and all that. They went down and worked him out, he could run. He's their team, of course, with the quarterback."
Lombardi later addressed that accusation in an interview with Cris Collinsworth saying, "After that press conference Al Davis threw everyone under the bus, [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft, Bill Belichick and myself, saying that I told Bill Belichick that Randy Moss could still run. Well, we were trying to trade Randy Moss to the New England Patriots. I thought that was good information to give Bill Belichick, But now [Davis] accused all of us of making those charges and now he is going to have to face them.
...I was trying to do the best thing for the Raiders, always have...In this situation, Bill Belichick is not going to always rely on my opinion for information. He is going to look at what he sees on the tape."
Lombardi's recollection of Moss?
"He was the most incredible player that I ever witnessed on the field. His hands were incredible, his speed was something I'd never seen before."
There's more to that quote, but ya gotta listen to the pod (below). Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?