Today, we learned more about some of the reasons -- perhaps the primary reasons -- why Randy Moss was unceremoniously cut by the Minnesota Vikings yesterday, via Michael Silver at Yahoo Sports. There's quite a bit to quote from his article here, but it's all necessary to understand the kind of individual and teammate Randy Moss is:
Moss had alienated some of his teammates with his brash, entitled behavior, most glaringly in an incident that occurred in the team’s locker room last Friday afternoon, Yahoo! Sports has learned.
As is the team’s custom on Fridays, a local food establishment was invited to the training facility to serve a catered, post-practice meal in the locker room. In this case, a St. Paul restaurant that is a favorite of former Vikings center Matt Birk. As the proprietors helped serve chicken, ribs, pasta and other dishes to Vikings players, Moss paced up and down the serving line and loudly expressed his displeasure with the offerings.
According to one player who witnessed the scene, Moss yelled, “What the [expletive]? Who ordered this crap? I wouldn’t feed this to my dog!”
Said the witness: “It was brutal. The truth is, he deserved to be cut after that. It was such an uncomfortable moment. You know that feeling where you just can tell someone feels so small? That’s what it was like being there.
“This wasn’t a chain – it was a mom-and-pop restaurant, and you could tell it was their best stuff. They had a special carving station set up, and there were players and other support staff lining up to eat it. And [Moss] is at his locker saying, ‘You know, I used to have to eat that crap – but now I’ve got money.’ You just felt so sad for them. I had never seen anyone treated like that.
“And by the way, the food was actually really good.”
Just reading this made me sick. That's all kinds of wrong. The very first thing an athlete in a team sport learns -- or should learn, anyway -- is that his performance on an individual level should be for one purpose only, to help his team win.
Sure, there are exceptions. If a baseball team is hopelessly out of pennant contention and an individual has a chance for personal accomplishment or to reach milestones, then you can understand putting the person ahead of the team.
But in all other circumstances, in team sports, there is no purpose to playing the games except for one team to defeat the other. We got an excellent example of that just yesterday, when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. That is a team, as its own manager Bruce Bochy called it, of "castoffs and misfits." There are no real superstars -- with the possible exception of The Freak, Tim Lincecum, who at 26 is already arguably the best pitcher in the game. They all pulled together, most notably, according to Chris DeLuca in the Chicago Sun-Times, after a tough loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the season's penultimate week:
Turns out a spanking courtesy of the Cubs' Randy Wells, who shut out the Giants on Sept. 21 to briefly knock them out of first place, led to a season-turning team meeting the next day called by veterans Edgar Renteria and Mark DeRosa.
"When DeRo talks and when Edgar talks," Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand said, "people listen."
Next game, the Giants erupted for 13 runs and shut out the Cubs.
Mark DeRosa is sort of the anti-Randy Moss, a team leader who was able to help rally his teammates even though he was injured and hadn't played since May.
Moss, on the other hand, is the perfect example of someone I don't want on my team at any cost. His talent is undeniable, but his attitude is something that takes the "me" out of "team". He wore out his welcome in Minnesota, Oakland and New England and then it took him only four weeks to wear it out again with the Vikings, who cut him even though they could sorely use a receiver with his talent.
I don't want to go too far afield by comparing Moss to LeBron James, because James is, by all accounts, a good teammate. But James and Moss are both symbols of what seems to be an attitude starting to infest team sports. In their cases they see themselves as more important than the team, or worse, the team itself. Look at some recent championship teams to see examples of clubs without these kinds of egos -- the Blackhawks, for example. The 2010 Stanley Cup champions had star players in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, but those guys don't have any attitude issues. Their play on the ice shows it -- they're all about the team. So were the last Super Bowl champions, the Saints, and as noted above, the San Francisco Giants.
NFL teams could learn a good lesson from this. When you read posts like this at SB Nation DC in which Redskins fans pretty much blow him big fat wet kisses, or hear about multiple other teams that "could" be interested, it's head-shaking time. Randy Moss never has been, and never will be, a team player. It's interesting to note that the Patriots won Super Bowls in 2001, 2003 and 2004, all years when Moss was in the league, yet in the three years he was with New England -- nada, just one Super Bowl loss.
Make a statement, NFL teams. Tell Randy Moss to take his ball and go home. No more catering to him, or catered meals either, for that matter. Here's hoping a stand is taken against one of the most selfish athletes ever to play the game.