This one’s for all the New England sports apologists out there. For you, Mr. I’m still waiting for David Ortiz to get to the bottom of his positive steroid test. And you, Mr. Manny Ramirez actually works a lot harder than people think. And especially you, Mr. Spygate was all a conspiracy to end the Patriots’ dynasty.
If you’re one of those people who refuses to believe your favorite player or team can do any wrong, then you deserve everything you get with the most disgraceful player in the NFL, Randy Moss.
New England won Sunday afternoon, as it always seems to when playing at home, but the victory was overshadowed by reports of Moss quitting on his team following a 16 yard catch that concluded with a fumble in the first half. According to the Boston Globe, two Carolina Panthers said the game plan was to get in the star wide receiver’s head early because they knew he would give up if he became frustrated.
"We knew he was going to shut it down," cornerback Chris Gamble said. “That's what we wanted to do him. That's what we did. He'd just give up a lot. Slow down, he's not going deep, not trying to run a route. You can tell, his body language."
Moss finished the game with only one catch and then like a petulant child, gave the media the silent treatment following the game. He has refused to speak since being sent home last Wednesday morning for being late to practice.
Of course, this isn’t the first time, or the second or third, that Moss has been accused of not running his routes properly or just giving up entirely. In fact, quitting on the Oakland Raiders is precisely what landed him in New England in the first place. His otherwise brilliant career has been plagued by these reports dating back to his days in Minnesota, where he once claimed, “I play when I want to play.”
It’s sickening when you think of the beating his more reliable teammate, Wes Welker, seems to take each and every week. But don’t expect anyone to get on Moss about it. He plays in New England, after all. This is the same group of fans who wanted to place a statue of their lazy left fielder outside Fenway Park until his final month with the Red Sox. Randy being Randy is just par for the course.
The media is just as pathetic. Nowhere else in the country will you find a group of local writers, radio hosts and television reporters lining up alongside the fans to get autographs from their favorite players. Most of these guys are more in love with Tom Brady than Gisele is. Earlier this season, Mike Freeman of CBSsportsline wrote an article criticizing Moss for –you guessed it— quitting on certain plays against the Atlanta Falcons. He charted every single play and found that “on a significant number of them, Moss either didn't block or generated a lackluster blocking effort. On other plays, when the ball wasn't going to him, Moss jogged some of his routes.”
You know what the collective response from NESN, Comcast SportsNet, WEEI, the Globe and the Boston Herald was? “Freeman is a hack.”
This is what happens when an entire culture goes from anguished to arrogant. Suddenly Bill Belichick’s decisions can’t be questioned, Theo Epstein is infallible and Doc Rivers is Red Auerbach with a more expensive suit. And the excuses extend to the field, which is why Moss can act like Manny in July 2008 but still be treated like Manny in October 2004.
Now with Belichick’s boys staring at a possible playoff matchup against the Denver Broncos and their much tougher wide receiver Brandon Marshall, I can’t help but think about the past. New England sports teams used to be defined by players who deserved to finally win a ring.
But these Patriots are defined by a guy who doesn’t.