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From Moss, Another Bad Moon Rising

By Leonard Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 12, 2005; 10:30 AM

Randy Moss is a dolt.

How else to describe Minnesota's petulant wide receiver? Granted, he is arguably the NFL's most dangerous offensive player, but a man/child who already has tarnished what should have been a brilliant legacy with one moronic display after another?

The last two weeks have seen Moss at his worst, and best, and worst.

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The first worst came Dec. 26 in Minnesota's regular season finale against the Redskins when Moss walked to the locker room with two seconds left in the game. His team was trailing by only three points at the time and still technically could have won by recovering an onside kick and a Hail Mary throw -- perhaps even to Moss.

But there went me-first, not-so-dandy Randy trudging toward the locker room, where he was scolded to his face by Minnesota center Matt Birk, a Harvard man who saw crimson when he learned what Moss had done.

Moss's best came Sunday in Minnesota's 31-17 first-card playoff victory over the Green Bay Packers. Moss beat Green Bay cornerback Al Harris for the game-clinching 34-yard touchdown reception that sealed the deal for the Vikings and sent them into the second round of the postseason Sunday in Philadelphia.

Then came the worst again, when Moss celebrated that score by sashaying over to the goalpost, turning his back to the Green Bay crowd and pantomimed pulling his pants down in the classic mooning gesture. Then he rubbed his rear end on the padded goal post just for good measure.

In the week before the Green Bay game, Moss had appeared on several radio and network TV shows to give his spin on his walk-off at FedEx Field. He sort of apologized, insisting all the while there was some method to his madness because it somehow took the pressure off his teammates and put the focus on Moss, allowing them to concentrate on simply winning the game.

Oh please.

Then he said he had promised head coach Mike Tice he was going to make amends by contributing some big plays for the Vikings against the Packers, and that he "had his back." Of course, when asked if he thought Tice was the right man to coach the Vikings, Moss also said maybe he is, and maybe he's not, he wasn’t really sure.

How about that for getting Tice's back.

With a hatchet.

True to his word, Moss did score twice, the second time while limping on a sprained right ankle. But instead of basking in what should have been the sweet after-glow of Minnesota's upset victory, Moss once again added more controversy into the mix with his classless and tasteless antics.

The NFL will almost certainly fine him for his vulgar little display, and if the league really wanted to stop this sort of foolishness once and for all, they'd suspend him for a game for conduct unbecoming a professional athlete. That would cost Moss, who earns $5 million a year, big-time in the wallet, of course. More importantly, perhaps the teammates who constantly come to his defense -- Birk not included -- might not be quite as effusive in their praise of his juvenile behavior, especially if his absence cost them the game.

In the Minnesota locker room after the upset of the Packers, a friend on the Vikings administrative staff pulled me aside and shook his head. Could you imagine a Walter Payton, a Bobby Mitchell, a Lynn Swann trying a stunt like that, he wondered out loud.

"The problem," he said, "is that we build these guys up to the point some of them think they can get away with anything. See how he feels if they make him sit out next week."

That's probably not going to happen. There are, however, definitely some signs that a few of his teammates are growing weary of Moss’s dreadful act. Birk could only offer a wan smile and a shrug of the shoulders when he said "that's Randy…He's never going to be a model citizen."

Sonny Jurgensen went on the air Monday night in Washington and said what a lot of people around the league may also be thinking. The Hall of Fame quarterback said no matter how talented Moss might be, he wouldn't want to play on the same team with him, wouldn't want him in his locker room, wouldn't want the distraction.

At the moment, the Vikings have no other choice. He and quarterback Daunte Culpepper offer the best hope Minnesota has for beating a slightly rusty Eagles team Sunday. If that does occur and the Vikings advance to the NFC title game -- nah, can't happen, no way -- one can only imagine what stunt Moss will have dreamed up for the final seconds of that game.

Then again, perish the thought. The man/child Moss is a dolt. End of story.

E-mail Leonard Shapiro at badgerlen@hotmail.com.

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