The knives have been sheathed and the prodigal son has been feted. Randy Moss is in the Hall of Fame and the Vikings’ Ring of Honor, and last Sunday was honored at U.S. Bank Stadium, thoroughly and redundantly.
Moss has become a popular television analyst while rightly being credited for helping transform the Vikings franchise from a cute mom-and-pop operation into the financial and cultural octopus it has become.
If anyone cares to ponder the once-difficult relationship between Moss and the Vikings, today would be the right day to do so.
Sunday, the Vikings will play at Foxborough, Mass., for the first time since 2010. That Halloween afternoon, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Brad Childress and Moss convened at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots won 28-18, and then Moss called his own news conference, pledged his allegiance to the Patriots at a Vikings podium and instigated a series of dramatic moves.
Two days later, Childress would release Moss. Three weeks later, the Vikings would fire Childress. Two months later, Favre would play in his last NFL game, his dream of combining with Moss to salvage the 2010 season at that point laughable.
The Vikings went into Foxborough hoping they could improve to 3-4 one season after losing, improbably, in the NFC Championship Game.
Instead, the day became one of the most embarrassing in Vikings history, while adding unnecessary luster to Belichick’s glued-on crown.
The Vikings would take leads of 7-0 and 10-7. With the Vikings trailing 21-10 midway through the fourth quarter, Favre threw a pass at the goal line that Moss touched but didn’t catch, perhaps pulling his arms in because of an impending hit.
After he released the ball, Favre took a helmet to the chin, opening a large cut. He was helped from the field and left the sideline laying sideways on a cart, a towel pressed to his chin.
On another long pass, earlier in the game, Moss appeared to give up on a Favre throw that landed surprisingly close to him. Moss finished the game with one catch for 8 yards.
Three weeks earlier, the Vikings had traded a third-round draft pick to the Patriots for Moss and a seventh-round pick in a desperate move to salvage the season. Moss entertained during his first news conference, later saying that he would do interviews only with himself.
Two days before the Patriots game, Moss berated a local restaurateur in the Vikings locker room, yelling that he wouldn’t feed that food to his dogs.
The next time Moss was heard in public, he ended his second stint with the Vikings, at that modest podium deep inside Gillette Stadium. He would catch six passes in eight games for Tennessee, retire for a season, then catch 28 passes for the 49ers in his final season in uniform.
On Oct. 31, 2010, Moss sought out Patriots owner Robert Kraft before the game, and hugged Belichick and Brady after the game. In a somber locker room, a reporter asked Moss if he would speak, and he announced that he was going to the postgame podium, which is usually reserved for the head coach and quarterback.
Members of the Vikings media relation staff turned pale. Reporters rushed to the interview area.
What ensued may have been the strangest news conference in NFL history — a player using his current team’s podium to praise his former team, which had just beaten his current team.
Moss did not take questions, instead offering a five-minute soliloquy.
“I miss them guys, man,” Moss said. “I miss the team … every last helmet in that locker room, man. Coach Belichick gave me a chance to be a part of something special, and I take that to heart. ... I’m gonna leave the New England Patriots, Coach Belichick with a salute, man. I love you guys. I miss you. I’m out.”
Yes, he was, and soon so were Childress and Favre.
In the eight years since, the Patriots have won two more Super Bowls, and lost two more, allowing Belichick and Brady to be considered among the best ever at their positions.
Moss may have given them their unique compliment on Halloween of 2010.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. Twitter: @SouhanStrib E-mail: email@example.com