"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Moss redux: Curious chapter in Vikes' history

"Monumental" was the word I trotted out to describe the Vikings' acquisition of Randy Moss. "Monumental" can describe a lot of things of course. I intended it as a way of suggesting the Minnesota Vikings had acquired a valuable piece in the puzzle to charge forward.
The 33-year-old seemed to have fuel left in the tank. The Vikings are entertainment and there was nothing more entertaining than watching Moss streak down the field. All the Vikings had to do was make this acquisition work.
Instead the whole episode ended up being a monumental curiosity.
Was it a well-intended and admirable move to apply the jumper cables? Or was it regrettable from the get-go?
Should we just shake our heads and turn thumbs-down on Mr. Moss, he of the Mike Tice-coined "Randy Ratio?" (Remember ol' "Pencil Ear?")
It all depends on whether the mercurial receiver works out with Tennessee. If Jeff Fisher of the Titans can get the best out of Moss, all the more power to the Titans. Coach Fisher will have demonstrated superior people management skills.
Meanwhile, has "Chilly" here in Minnesota ever really developed a warm following? Coach Childress talks like it's hard for him to get each word out. His voice has a low, grinding and grating quality. His personality could bring to mind the jokes Johnny Carson used to tell about Tommy Newsom.
His comments after the release of Moss reminded me of a recently deceased NBC newsman who was also a book author. Edwin Newman wrote books about the English language. He felt its use was deteriorating in many ways.
And this was in the days before he would read blogs (or, heaven forbid, comment boards underneath online articles - the stuff of pure Neanderthals).
Newman wrote about how people not only misused the language, they manipulated it to obfuscate and create fog. Newman's books included "Strictly Speaking" and "A Civil Tongue." He was probably ahead of his time because of his fascination with communications.
He poked fun at someone who at a press conference said "I'll have to evaluate and make a judgment in terms of a response." In other words, this individual had to take some time and think about it.
Brad Childress commented on the Moss departure using a similar abuse of the language. He said Moss was "a programmatic non-fit." I suppose you could call this "groping to find sophisticated words to describe something pretty basic."
College professors can at least use a little finesse to do this. Childress meanwhile is a bull in a china closet with the English language.
Facing the media after Moss' departure (via waivers), the coach was on the defensive and with egg on his face.
The acquisition of Moss had such a bombshell effect when it happened. Childress initially seemed to be the architect of something monumental.
"How did the Vikings pull that off?" we might've asked.
Surely the Vikings were not only going to right their ship, they were going to start dominating people.
(. . ."And stop calling me Shirley.")
Instead the Vikings seem to be showing some programmatic miscalculation. Only Dallas might be more embarrassed at this stage of the season.
Newman wrote about someone who described some type of failure as "slippage."
"We had some slippage."
Maybe Chilly could have trotted out those words, or we could have heard them from owner Zygi Wilf. Because certainly the Vikings are on the verge of slipping out of contention. And Childress himself is on the verge of becoming a programmatic non-fit.
Was Moss judged unacceptable because he could be a locker room distraction? He complained about the catered food!
Oh, BFD. The most brilliant and talented people among us often have eccentricities. The mere eccentricities can be tolerated.
Did Moss actually "quit" on that play vs. the New England Patriots when he was interfered with, but still apparently had a chance to catch the pass? The ball was advanced with the penalty, but the play would have been a touchdown if Moss had gone forward and caught the ball.
But was it that easy? I would argue that it looks easier on TV than it might have been in reality. Moss knew he had been interfered with, and this probably disrupted his concentration or continuity. His judgment had to be made in a split second.
It's easy for us knaves in the sofas to second guess. I'll bet the players aren't convinced that Moss actually quit. I think the players were perfectly happy putting up with Moss, and Adrian Peterson seemed to say as much.
It's easy to disregard Moss' crazy uncle behavior. Or to just be humored by it.
An ESPN commentator sagely noted that the upside of Moss can never be overlooked. No one in the NFL is more gifted at suddenly turning a seven-point lead into a 14-point lead. That means a lot in some games.
Moss even showed this gift during his brief fling with the Vikings. It's like a starting pitcher in baseball who only works one game in five but who can win a pennant for you. Moss could carry a team on a few plays. He probably has to "pick his spots."
I'd rather risk the downside of Moss' irritating qualities than to just ship him off. Fisher of the Titans senses the upside too. He'll be walking a tightrope in how he manages the situation.
Chilly ended the grand experiment here with that typical low, chafing voice at the microphone, with the words seemingly just crawling out, making him seem quite the opposite of Bud Grant in the ingratiating department.
All that was missing was the word "slippage."
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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