Whatever we call it, Desperations Bowl or Panic Bowl or We Really Are Better Than Our Records Suggest Bowl, Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys at Mall of America Field is going to be one heck of a homecoming for the Minnesota Vikings newest receiver, Randy Moss.
Sunday around 3pm there will be lots of anxious people watching the game at the Dome or on television, wearing #84 jerseys (some old, some new), and hoping for a 6'4" receiving Freak to jog into the end zone and save the season. If he jumps into the stands and the arms of a burly viking dude, that will be icing on the cake.
Absent from the Vikings for the last five seasons, Randy Moss will be taking the home field in purple once again. In his first press conference after signing with the Vikings Moss said his first game back in the Dome was going to be "bananas". Something tells me his description is probably a lot more printable than what some of the rest of us out in Vikings Land were thinking. But, however you want to describe it, Moss is right-it's going to be a very, very big deal. From 1998 to 2004 when he played for the Minnesota Vikings he had 90 touchdowns, went to the Pro Bowl five times, and had six seasons receiving for more than 1,000 yards. Even five years later and admitting he's lost a step or two over years, he's still capable of streaking downfield like a gazelle and making seemingly impossible catches. No amount of hyperbole seems excessive or even adequate when discussing Randy Moss' ability as a receiver.
So it's probably no surprise that when he signed with the Vikings last week our humble site here at the Daily Norseman blew up. Either of them alone is an asset to a team, but combining Randy Moss and Brett Favre is a once-in-a-lifetime pairing that rivals peanut butter and chocolate for sheer goodness.
But, for all the gushing things I could say about this epic pairing, I'm really much more amused by the fact that, heading into Sunday's game, Randy Moss is not going to be the most controversial player on the field.
Who would have thought that Randy Moss, the guy who squirted the game official with a water bottle, mimed mooning Packers fans at Lambeau Field, and herded a traffic officer through Minneapolis with his car, would come off like a boy scout in comparison to embattled quarterback Brett Favre? Moss has said all the right and polite things about Minnesota and his new teammates, and has immediately immersed himself in the offense, playing as much as he can given his unfamiliarity with the playbook. He's logged long hours studying film with Favre, shared his wealth of experience with Percy Harvin, impressed receivers coach George Stewart with his intelligence, and caught a honey of a touchdown against the New York Jets.
Not only that, but, from all appearances, Vikings fans have welcomed him home like their favorite prodigal son. I don't know if that's because of the ineffectiveness that has marked the receiving corps through the first quarter of the season, or if enough time has passed for the cloud of unhappiness Moss was under when he left Minnesota to pass, but it would appear that all is forgiven-especially if he rallies the offense to play to its immense potential.
Watching Moss' press conferences, reading the news stories about him, and brushing up on his history, the thing that strikes me as most endearing about Randy Moss (you know, other than his amazing talent) is his surprisingly candid honesty. He seems to say what he really thinks and feels, an ever-loving rarity in a sport that seems to be increasingly muzzled by the image-conscious NFL and team owners. So, when Randy Moss says he's excited about playing on the 2010 Minnesota Vikings, I believe him. And, since he plays the way he feels, I also believe we're in for a good game against the Dallas Cowboys.