This Sunday, Randy Moss returns to where he first began his hall-of-fame career; the Thunderdome in Minneapolis. His career is probably one of the most enigmatic of the ones I have seen in my lifetime, a freak athlete who dominated his position, who somehow managed to play for 5 NFL teams, including 3 in one year. He has set NFL records, helped Tom Brady to an historic year, played on an undefeated regular season team, and gave us one of the best quotes of all time. Yet, he doesn’t get the love he deserves from most pundits. Why is that?
Randy Moss is probably in the list of the athletes like Terrell Owens, Shaq, and Allen Iverson. These are guys who amassed great numbers, other worldly numbers, yet instead of being honored, fans say they should have done more. Or better yet, fans say if they were these guys, they would have done more. I remember when I said, “if I was Shaq, I would score 40 and 20 every night and shoot 75% from the free-throw line.” No matter that Shaq is the 5th leading scorer in NBA history. I am going to judge him on what I would have done if I had his skill. Our best recent example is LeBron James (and also Dwight Howard but I’m still a hater to him). Fans railed against him, saying they would never betray Cleveland to go to Miami. Or that they would choose to make their own legacy in New York or Chicago. But I bet you that these fans aren’t 6’8″, 250, haven’t played in the NBA, or have even been to Cleveland or Miami. So who are these people comparing themselves to.
This behavior is labeled ‘the veil of opulence’. It was introduced in the New York Times, and brought to the sports debate in Grantland. Basically, the premise is people will look at issues from the perspective of who they want to be rather than who they are currently. So politically, it’s why some poorer people will vote for lower taxes rather than better government assistance. In sports, it’s usually what fans so when they hear about athletes who go broke after their career like they really care about the man and his money (looking at you Vince Young). Or in the case of Randy Moss, we judge him because he seems aloof. He doesn’t run routes hard all the time, doesn’t block, doesn’t go over the middle. If I were Randy Moss, I would give 110% every play and catch 5 touchdowns a game is what crosses our mind.
But we aren’t Randy Moss. And if we were, judging by our own lives at work or in pickup sports, we would be just like Moss, maybe even worse. Because Randy Moss has been the best player on the field for the last decade. His 75% was better than some defenses 100% and he figured that out before everyone. He raised hand to say he was open and he was right every time. Would you run over the middle, if your 9 route was always open like it was Madden? Could you give 100% every play knowing there was no defensive back that was your equal? Just remember what Moss did to Darrelle Revis a couple of years ago, and Moss was on the downside of his career.
So for guys like Moss, guys that get criticized despite gaudy numbers, it’s time to get off the soapbox and look at some stats and videotape. He truly is one the greatest receivers of all time. You may say he wasn’t trying most of the time. I say that made him even more of a genius. With a simple raise of his hand, he vaulted a Minnesota franchise to dominance, made Oakland respectable, and made the Patriots perfect.* I don’t need any type of veil to say that’s a pretty good career, no matter what we think of him as a person. You don’t have to get Randy Moss and his personality, just get what he has done in his career. Word to Shotguns and Jewelry. Song of the week and games of the week after the bump.
Saturday, September 22
EARLY AFTERNOON: Maryland vs 8 WVU (12pm, FX)/Virginia vs 17 TCU (12pm, ESPN)/UAB vs 16 Ohio State (12pm,BTN)
LATE AFTERNOON: Oregon State vs 19 UCLA (3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2)/Missouri vs 7 South Carolina (3:30, CBS)/Temple vs Penn State (3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2)
NIGHT: 10 Clemson vs 4 Florida State (8pm, ABC)/22 Arizona vs 3 Oregon (10:30, ESPN)/15 Kansas State vs 6 Oklahoma (7:30pm, FOX)
Sunday, September 23
EARLY AFTERNOON: Tampa Bay vs Dallas/St. Louis vs Chicago/Cincinnati vs Washington
LATE AFTERNOON: Philadelphia vs Arizona/Houston vs Denver/Atlanta vs San Diego