The second day of my internship at WXIN Fox 59 here in Indianapolis, one Jeremiah Johnson (follow him at @ISNJJ on twitter) and I were driving to Butler University for some Horizon League game in which the Bulldogs completely blew out the opponent.
The game wasn't so important in itself (besides the fact that I shot some pretty good highlights and remember JJ's surprise when he said "Wow, the colors are actually right!"), but I do remember this particular exchange that went something along the lines of this:
Me: So who are your favorite teams?
JJ: Well, to tell the truth, I'm not sure I really have any favorite teams anymore. Once you actually get close to the athletes and find out some of the guys aren't what you thought they'd be, it tarnishes the image. I guess I'm a Reds fan, because baseball is really the only sport we don't cover and have been ruined for me yet.
Which is why I'm glad JJ was able to make it to the Reds clincher with his father:
As a 23 year-old sports reporter, I do admit that I've noticed myself as being part of fandom more then my older and more experienced colleagues. For example, since June alone I found myself both openly too excited and disgruntled about Lakers playoff wins/losses, the Chicago White Sox up and down season, Frank Thomas day, Lebron James decision to be a douchebag, the World Cup, and the fact that I still haven't gotten over Buffalo defeating Ball State in the 2008 MAC Championship.
And sometimes, like when Nick Swisher (SWEEEEEETTTTT!!!!!!!) hits a home run when I'm attending a Yankees game, I get a little too excited.
There's many reasons my extreme fandom could be living on. Maybe I'm just young and stupid, and at my age I haven't quite realized there's much more in life then sports.
(My favorite Don Draper quote from Mad Men: "Look, the thing about young people is that they are stupid. The problem is, that they don't know they are stupid yet, because they are young." I hate to say it's dead on....)
Maybe I haven't had enough interactions with athletes who are mean (I've had a couple) to turn me bitter yet. Or maybe I just need to have a few more reps in my system so when I don't see this guy at a Pacers game, I don't say to myself on the inside "HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP IT'S LARRY BIRD!!!!"
(I can't help it, I love this picture too much. Seriously, if I could have any Larry Bird picture autographed, it would be this one.)
So with all my fandom, I've been known to turn a blind-eye to athletes as long as they win.
Most notably, one Kobe Bean Bryant, who as to my knowledge helped ruin an earlier dynasty by running out my then favorite player Shaq (which I've all but forgiven for starting a new one and that I hear Shaq's actually a jerk too), is an incredibly rude and awful teammate, has had problems getting along with people since age 16, cusses all the time in media availability, changed his jersey number thus out-dating everybody's jerseys, was convicted for rape (actual, full out rape), and had asked to be traded so many times that it wasn't until the second-half of his 2008 MVP campaign that I finally 100% game him.
(We will forgive Lebron one day. We truly will, just wait.)
Yeah, that's a lot of baggage, but as a FAN, I'm willing to put up with it. However, I'm not hear to talk about Kobe, but rather a professional athlete who I publicly defended every day for the past nine years despite all signs showing he's really just a punk that I would never want to have any human interaction with if I was around him.
Yet, when the New England Patriots let Randy "Part the Red Sea" Moss go earlier this season, I was absolutely crushed to the point I posted this on my Facebook with the following caption:
"Goodbye my almost lover
Goodbye my hopeless dream
I'm trying not to think about you
Can't you just let me be?
So long my luckless romance
My back is turned on you
Should've known you'd bring me heartache
Almost lovers always do"
Randy Moss' numbers are just truly too jaw-droppingly impressive to even fathom. A 6"6 wide receiver who could run a 4.25 40-yard sprint, with 153 touchdowns (2nd all-time), 14,578 yards (5th all-time), and seven Pro-Bowls despite the fact that two years of his prime were virtually wasted away in Oakland. He changes how defenses think, you must always watch him on the field at all-times, and to tell the truth, it would be hard to argue that he hasn't been the most exciting receiver to watch in the past ten years.
So naturally, I, like Bill Simmons, fell in love with Randy Moss as a player, to the point he re-vamped my interest in the NFL by 10,000% once he was traded to the Patriots in the biggest steal in NFL history.
Yet I overlooked these trouble signs with Randy Moss for the fact he was just so exciting to watch: stomping a kid in a high school hallway thus having his chances of playing at Notre Dame thrown out the window, getting kicked off Florida State for smoking a blunt, publicly saying that the Marshall plane crash "wasn't nothing big" despite playing for Marshall at the time, squirting a water bottle on a ref, fake mooning a crowd, hitting a traffic cop, beating his girlfriend, publicly making himself seem like an idiot with stupid comments, and being crazy enough to buy a truck racing team.
But I loved Moss as if he was my own, because all 23 touchdowns in 2007 were incredible, the stories of how hard he trains, and he always showed up in the biggest game of the year against your Indianapolis Colts:
It's easy to overlook everything when he's YOUR guy (Ron Artest fans are shaking their heads up and down as they read this). But when Randy Moss took off the pass-interferance play on Sunday when he should have had a touchdown, thus leading to Brett Favre getting rammed in the chin, I actually said to myself "Wow, maybe it's a good thing he's gone."
Which promptly ended with this hug...
And then re-started with the craziest press conference of 2010 where Moss not only claimed he'll be the only reporter for all of his interviews from here on out, but publicly giving waaaaay too much man-love for the New England Patriots.
With that said, I wasn't sure how to take the Randy Moss news yesterday, thus these tweets followed:
- @phil_friend The greats, like Don Draper and Randy Moss, all have their flaws. Maybe I should buy Moss a notebook and swim trunks Monday, November 01, 2010 4:07:54 PM via txt
- As a Randy Moss fan, how am I suppose to tell my future kids I liked him? Should I become a Gordon Hayward fan? Monday, November 01, 2010 3:59:16 PM via txt
- Have we ever seen a hard working off the field NFL player waste his talent more then Moss? Four years wasted, he should own Rice's record Monday, November 01, 2010 3:58:24 PM via txt
- I can't wait until we see the 45 for 45 on Moss in 14 years. Monday, November 01, 2010 3:51:19 PM via txt
- Oh boy.. #randymossfanincompletedenialmaybethepatspickhimbackup? 3:47 PM Nov 1st via txt
- @isnjj I do agree with this though... By time he proves he isn't a head case again, father time will have ruined what's left of him. 3:45 PM Nov 1st via txt
- Think about it... Moss was crazy enough to buy a truck racing team. Him and Artest are too much alike. 3:35 PM Nov 1st via txt
- Bill Polian wouldn't touch a head case like Moss with a ten foot pole. He would ruin the Colts organization. 3:33 PM Nov 1st via txt
- @isnjj Wouldn't buy the "not productive and old" argument... Spreads defense and still a deep threat... But he's crazier then Artest, no ... 3:32 PM Nov 1st via txt
But then the real reasons why the Vikings, who gave up a third round pick (rather valuable) for Moss only to cut him a few games (and two TD's) later, came out in a Yahoo Sports report from Michael Silver:
"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(notes). 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!”
The scene, which involved a Mom and Pop restaurant going all out in a way in which they could afford, feeding their favorite team for free, was described as "brutal" and "uncomfortable". Moss even later said "I used to eat this food, and then I made money".
I can't imagine being the employees of a restaurant, being so excited because you were given the chance to be around professional athletes for a day and take care of them, with a GREAT FAN BASE that the Vikings have, and then a pariah putting you down straight to your face as you did nothing wrong.
No human being, especially one that you have never met before in your life and is completely harmless, should ever be treated that way, especially when that person is doing everything they can to pamper you. It's despicable, and one of the worst cases of "I'm better then you because I'm a pro athlete" cases that I have heard in an incredibly long time.
I'm sick of it, and with those words, I'm saying goodbye to Randy Moss from here on out. I can't possibly support somebody who could do such a ruthless thing.
With that said, the expectations and the fantasy of him helping out the Indianapolis Colts should be as far as possible from Colts fans minds. Yes, the idea of Moss to Manning, thus leaving Reggie Wayne in one-on-one coverage while Collie battles to get back on the field would be amazing, but consider this:
- At this point of his career, Moss probably only gives 100% when interested on plays, which is becoming increasingly less and less.
- The Colts offense is based off timing routes, the exact opposite of what Randy Moss does on the field.
- The Indiana Pacers exemplified what happens when thugs play for a team, and are still paying for it.
- There's a chance that he could ruin all of the positive vibe of the "Next Man Up", business-like, good deeds in every sense of the word Colts that you know of.
(Come on, the only bad pub this team gets is when a punter goes for a swim! That's not that bad!)
- And as JJ would say, "I think he's old."
Randy Moss, please go waste your amazing talents in St. Louis, and disappear for a long time.
Straight cash homey, and next time, I'm going to be a thousand times more ruthless on you.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun