- Associated Press - Thursday, November 11, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - There is Randy Moss the playmaker and Randy Moss the play skipper.

Randy Moss the gracious and Randy Moss the petty.

Randy Moss the player’s player and Randy Moss the coach’s scourge.

The many faces of Randy Moss include the fiery leader whose stirring halftime speeches have spurred his teams to victory, and the pouting malcontent who has bailed on his teammates before a game was even over.

They also include the generous spirit who brings needy children to amusement parks and makes their faces light up with a game ball, and the childish bully who berated a caterer for serving a spread “I wouldn’t feed to my (expletive) dog.”

Moss may well be the greatest receiver of his generation and yet he’s always been one of the most polarizing players around _ an uncompromising, inscrutable individual in a game that depends on fitting into a team’s system. It’s the basic reason he is playing for his third club in just over a month, and the Tennessee Titans were the only one of the league’s 32 franchises to put in a claim for him when he hit the waiver wire last week.

“I don’t know if anybody can totally pin down who Randy Moss is,” said Tim DiPiero, one of Moss‘ first agents.

It’s hard to find a teammate who doesn’t speak highly of Moss, despite his long history of taking plays off and boorish behavior on the field and in the locker room. It’s also difficult to find a coach who wouldn’t love to have a receiver with Moss‘ unprecedented combination of size (6-foot-4), speed (a 4.4. 40-yard dash), hands and intelligence _ which is why he keeps getting second chances.

“He’s got a great heart for people who don’t have what he’s got,” DiPiero said. “But he has his moments that seem to get him off track and into some problems.”

His abrupt departure from Minnesota last week shocked the Vikings players, especially second-year receiver Percy Harvin, who had quickly formed a bond with Moss.

Star running back Adrian Peterson called Moss “a great teammate” and “cooler than an ocean breeze” despite watching him give up on several plays in the previous game against New England, question the coaching staff in a postgame rant and embarrass the organization by criticizing the food offered by a local restaurant.

“I think that all great athletes are a little different,” said former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, who recruited Moss when he was a high school star in West Virginia. “But a great athlete, you have to teach them a lot of things, how to take coaching, how to accept his role, how to compete, things like that.”

Moss grew up with his mom and three siblings in Rand, W.Va., near Charleston.

When Moss was 6, he met Sam Singleton, who would become his youth football and baseball league coach and mentor. Singleton bought cleats for Moss, drove him to and from practice and became a member of Moss‘ exclusive inner circle.

“He’s a knucklehead,” Singleton said, laughing. “I had a lot of kids. He was just one of the kids. It was a community thing.”

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