Wide receiver Randy Moss, who spent last season in retirement after managing to frustrate the three NFL teams that employed him in 2010, celebrated his 35th birthday Monday by announcing plans for a comeback.
“I’m really excited,” Moss said on UStream. “I had some things I had to adjust in my life.”
The future Hall of Famer could have put it more frankly – “I need the money” – and who can fault him? Moss has been a royal pain for the entirety of his adult life, and part of his youth, but it’s no crime to capitalize on talent that might not be evident in a year or two.
He’s healthy, and even if age has deprived him a half-step of the breakaway speed responsible for 153 career touchdowns, Randy Moss still figures to be faster than almost anybody else on the field. Another consideration: Because he’s a free agent, Moss can be obtained without costing a team trade chips.
I imagine Moss in a Seahawks uniform, posing a deep-ball threat to defenses not intimidated by such possession receivers as Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin. I imagine this for a moment, and then I remember Moss’ history as a high-maintenance malcontent who has caught 954 NFL passes and created at least as many headaches.
“The thing you have to address with Randy Moss is not a conditioning thing,” former Vikings teammate Cris Carter told ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning Show” Tuesday morning. “It’s not an age thing. … The elephant in the room … is that thing called quit.
“Randy, when things don’t go well, like no other player I’ve ever been around or associated with, has a quit mechanism that’s huge.”
During a 7-9 Seahawks season salvaged by a second-half resurgence in 2011, coach Pete Carroll was consistent in his praise of one aspect about his team: its motor.
Whatever the score, wherever they stood in the standings, the Hawks almost always exerted a 60-minute effort.
Moss still is blessed with transcendent ability – even Carter acknowledges as much – but the last thing the 2012 Seahawks need is key a player with a “quit mechanism” that’s huge.
Furthermore, Carroll and general manager John Schneider have displayed a vision in their retooling of a roster that’s been turned over from established veterans to younger guys with hungry hearts. It’s a vision that precludes the presence of Moss and another veteran guaranteed enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, Peyton Manning.
The Colts quarterback, still recovering from the neck surgery that sidelined him last season, likely will be released in the next two weeks, free to pursue a team willing to guarantee him a signing bonus well into eight figures. (By the way, if Manning were given a nickname based on the first syllable of his first name and the first syllable of his last name – baseball players do this all the time – his nickname would be “PeyMan.”)
But declining to participate in a presumptive free-agent bidding war for Manning is less a financial decision than a long-range strategic one: Carroll and Schneider are committed to a youth movement, and a 35-year-old survivor of three neck surgeries represents neither youth nor movement.
If you’re tired of the youth-movement model for roster reconstruction, I understand. If you want to scream and throw something whenever you see the word “youth” preceding the word “movement,” hey, I understand that, too.
The Mariners’ painstaking youth movement (sorry) has been a three-years-and-counting slog that will further tax the patience of fans this summer.
Then again, had the Mariners been able to identify the long-term consequences of investing in an aging lineup eight years ago, they’d be in a position to compete by now. The 2004 season was pivotal: After winning 93 games in 2003 – the fourth straight year they finished with at least 90 victories – general manager Bill Bavasi was looking at 35-year-old Bret Boone at second base, 35-year-old Dan Wilson at catcher, and 41-year-old Edgar Martinez at designated hitter.
Although it was time for an overhaul, Bavasi tried to muster a last-gasp season of relevance with such band-aid acquisitions as shortstop Rich Aurilia (32) and third baseman Scott Spiezio (31). While Aurilia’s work was forgettable during the 73 games he spent with the Mariners, Spiezio’s work – and that term is beyond generous – was uninspired to the point it is, well, unforgettable.
After the Mariners bounced back with a surprising second-place finish in 2007, Bavasi stuck to his reload-rather-than-rebuild philosophy, trading center fielder Adam Jones, reliever George Sherill and three minor-league pitching prospects to the Orioles for Erik Bedard, a left-handed starter who shut things down after either 90 pitches or six innings, whichever came first.
Jack Zduriencik took charge of this listing-ship disaster in the winter of 2008, and with a few exceptions – Ken Griffey Jr., Jack Wilson, Mike Sweeney, Jack Cust – the players he has acquired generally have been younger, with more upside, than the players who’ve left.
Carroll and Schneider are using a similar blueprint to reshape the Seahawks, except their M.O. is even more gung-ho. It’s as if they’re archaeologists on a frantic scavenger hunt, probing the foothills for hidden gems.
Randy Moss does not qualify on either count.
Stay true to your principles, Seahawks. Stay on the course, and avoid future Hall of Famers with huge quit mechanisms.