Over in another thread, I got into a discussion about the full implications of the Moss trade for me. And why Minnesota, in general, is so happy about it, and Moss himself seems 'happy to be home', as he said multiple times during his re-introductory press conference yesterday.
For me and many others, this is more than just another trade for a great player, this is about a win for the good guys, aka the Fans of the Minnesota Vikings, and the state of Minnesota. This is about sports justice being served, and about being made whole again as a fan of the Purple and Gold.
A bit over the top? Maybe. A tad melodramatic? Possibly. But not if you had walked in our shoes as Vikings fans the last fifty years. And I won't even go back that far, I'll just go back to late 2004.
After the jump, of course.
The 2004 season was a weird one for the VIkings. QB Daunte Culpepper was emerging as an elite QB (or so we thought), Onterrio Smith looked like a long time fixture at RB (before the Whizzinator), and the VIkings were rolling halfway through the season. As they faltered late, Randy Moss, who struggled with injuries all year, walked off the field early in a late season loss at Washington, a loss that nearly cost the Vikings the playoffs. Fans and media went into an uproar, and it was the latest in a line of issues for Moss that cemented his legend in Minnesota. In a bad way.
They made the playoffs, went into Green Bay, and in the first post season meeting of the longtime rivals, the Vikings shredded the Packers. Randy Moss had a game which further cemented his legend in Minnesota, in a good way. It was the sometimes petulant Moss at his best, with a sore hamstring and ankle, still better than anyone the game has seen, scoring on two long TD passes. His mooning of the Lambeau crowd was viewed favorably by everybody but Joe Buck and the Green Bay fans, but it caused even more of a firestorm. The wheels were set in motion for Moss' departure, and when the Vikings lost in the divisional round to Philadelphia, rumors started to float out of Winter Park that the Vikings were exploring a trade of Moss.
A lot of fans thought good riddance. Moss was a distraction, and although the 'Moon Over Lambeau' in and of itself didn't rise to the level of say a Rae Carruth, but it was another incident in a string of them for Moss. He had done worse than the mooning incident, and when taken in context with Green Bay fans doing it to the opposing team’s bus, I thought it was hysterical. At the time, I thought it was the straw breaking the camel’s back, so I could swallow it. I didn't like it, but I understood it. Or so I thought.
Because looking back, that really wasn’t that at all.
What it really was was former owner Red McCombs wanting to break it off in the ass of Viking fans and the state of Minnesota as he walked out the door because he didn’t get a new stadium. He was in the process of selling to Wilf, so Wilf couldn't stop him from doing it, and he knew it.
Daunte Culpepper wanted to be the undisputed star of the team, and he got his wish. Moss was the supernova, and Culpepper was a running QB who wouldn't amount to anything if he didn't have Moss to chuck it to. He wanted to prove that he was an elite QB, and the only was he could really do that was if he were to put up the same numbers without Moss. Culpepper was gone a little over one year, one boatride, and one hissy fit about his contract later.
So if you want to say I'm wearing my glasses with an extra thick shade of purple this morning, I won't dispute it. You see, my whole life as a Minnesota sports fan has seen our superstars go elsewhere, usually to win a championship, with the exception of Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek. Moss, Kevin Garnett, David Ortiz, the list goes on. It's almost expected: Guy comes to Minnesota team, becomes great, goes to New York or Boston. Wash. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Now, since Zygi Wilf has become owner, the shoe is on the other foot. I saw someone comment either here or on anther site about this trade that Wilf is now like Dan Snyder. I couldn't disagree more. Wilf signs players that are immediate needs for the Vikings and makes them better. Snyder just signs the biggest name available, whether or not it helps the Redskins. Zygi WIlf is a lot more like George Steinbrenner, and I for one am ecstatic that he's the Vikings owner. The coaches identify a need, the front office says they can afford it, and Wilf tells them to pull the trigger. It’s nice to have the superstars from other teams (Hutch, Allen, Favre, now Moss) coming here to try and win one. But for every move and draft up until a day ago, you always wondered...what if we still had Moss? Could you imagine AP, Favre, and Moss on the same team? Well, now it's reality.
So this, for me, is a turning point. A cathartic exorcism of our past that allows us to move forward, at least metaphorically.
It’s a great feeling, and one I am going to enjoy for a long, long time.