Wednesday, January 12, 2005

You just have to let Randy Moss be Randy Moss, whether he is one toke over the line or shimmying against a goal post.

He is an instinctively creative sort who sometimes bumps against the boundary of bad taste, as creative sorts often do.

Creative sorts ask us to think and consider the context.

This was the contention of Colts coach Tony Dungy, who has spent more time in Green Bay, Wis., than he normally cares to recall.

It was Dungy who pointed out the incomparable Green Bay ritual of fans mooning the visiting team buses as they pull away from the Lambeau Field parking lot.

“It’s kind of a unique send-off,” Dungy said, especially in the dead of winter, when Green Bay alternates between bitterly cold and worse.

Moss resorted to his faux mooning after scoring a touchdown that eliminated the playoff expectations of the Packers and the cheeseheads. It was the faux mooning shown ‘round the nation and picked apart in the quantitative manner of the tsunami.

Moss, not unlike Ron Artest, has exhausted whatever remnants of good will that could be extended to him, which in this case is warranted.

His faux mooning was childishly laughable, hardly worthy of national consternation, if held distinct from his baggage.

Yet, predictably, it is the baggage feeding the condemnation. Moss has earned the reputation of being both a bad guy and teammate. It is a reputation that he appears to wear as medals of his individuality and worthiness.

He never shows an appreciation of the rules, except when a cornerback is holding him while he is attempting to run his pass route. Then, not surprisingly, Moss becomes a stickler of the rules and demands that a yellow hanky be tossed to the ground.

Otherwise, Moss is content to play and live by his rules, which are highly subjective and ever dependent on his mood at a given moment.

If you recall, it was his decision to bump a traffic officer with his car in Minneapolis several years ago. In hindsight, it probably was not a good decision to impose the car-as-lethal-instrument rule on a traffic officer. Traffic officers tend to take exception to being treated like a highway cone, even if the perpetrator is a rich and famous athlete who was just being who he is.

Letting Moss be Moss is the favored sentiment of the Vikings, which, of course, is a counterproductive way to run a team. Coincidentally or not, the Vikings are a notoriously underachieving bunch with a habit of imploding late in the season.

As it is, Moss is tormented by the quandary of being involved in a team sport that requires a subjugating of the self. This is his interminable conflict that, barring an honest self-assessment, will result in a career that lacks the affirmation of an ample postseason portfolio, a championship ring and longevity.

As soon as Moss starts to show signs of physical slippage, he will not be afforded the opportunity to evolve into a team’s second or third receiving option, as Jerry Rice has been able to do. Moss is just not worth the heartburn.

Letting a nincompoop be a nincompoop cannot be any fun if you are the coach of the team, because it emasculates and undermines the role.

Mike Tice becomes the incredible shrinking coach of the Vikings on those occasions that Moss is driving the caravan, which hardly jibes with his persona. He is a big guy, a tough guy who has been reduced to wimpy silence by the faux mooning.

Next stop: Philadelphia, home of the seriously incorrigible supporters of the Eagles.

The Faux Mooning Police are certain to be out in force, specifically trained to stem a potential outbreak of faux mooning-like acts in the stands.

Fortunately for the NFL, the talk-show shouters and the nation, Terrell Owens is sidelined with an injury and will be unable to respond in kind.

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