A different shade of purple?

THE BALTIMORE SUN

REGARDLESS OF THE temptation, the chance of playing alley-oop ball, the possibility of having the first real legitimate deep threat in franchise history, the Ravens should say no.

Let's repeat that: no, no, no.

Unless this is the steal of the century, the mother of all bargains, the Ravens should just say no to the Minnesota Vikings in a possible trade for their disgruntled and childish receiver, Randy Moss.

According to sources from the Ravens and Minnesota, Vikings coach Mike Tice has been shopping Moss around the NFL, and the Vikings reportedly want two first-round picks, or a first-round selection and a starter, in exchange for Moss.

It sounds like a great deal for the Ravens. You can see the old Compu Coach smiling now as he crunches offensive numbers. Moss and Brian Billick, together again. Let's go vertical. Let's go mad in the passing game. The Ravens' new motto in 2005 would be straight out of the Ted Marchibroda playbook: Let 'Er Rip. Yahoo. If Terrell Owens can help the Eagles get to the Super Bowl, then why not us?

Now, let's all take a deep breath, get a grip and repeat these words: no, no, no. This team can't absorb the personality of Moss. There aren't too many psychologists who can take on Moss.

Despite the Ravens being talented, they are still too young, especially offensively, to handle Moss. Sure, he's an outstanding talent. He's got great hands, super speed and can leap over tall buildings in a single bound.

But he is also the ultimate I-guy. Selfish and malcontent are words that easily come to mind. The deal is enticing. It looked the same way for Vikings coach Dennis Green when 19 other teams - Cincinnati passed twice - passed over Moss in 1998 draft, and Green took him with the 21st pick.

But three years later, Green lost control of Moss, then his team, and ultimately paid with his job. The risk is too great. Billick has already admitted there was a chemistry problem this season, and now he is thinking about adding TNT to the mix.

We really don't need to discuss Moss' background. He has a long rap sheet off and on the field, but the most repeated offense on the field has been him quitting on his teammates. He did it against the Redskins this season, and twice in back-to-back losses to Detroit and Jacksonville in 2001.

Some leader, eh? Is Ron Artest available?

Adding Moss would come at a time when quarterback Kyle Boller, beginning his third season, is just about ready to take over leadership of the offense. But with Moss, that wouldn't happen. Boller is still young, and he doesn't have that type of presence. Imagine a couple of Moss tantrums, and you could see Boller walking up to Billick and whispering, "Make him stop, Daddy, please."

There would be other problems. It was a year ago that Todd Heap was complaining about not getting enough passes. If that was a drought, then what will happen with Moss in the lineup?

Only this season, Jamal Lewis complained because he wasn't getting enough carries. He'll see the ball even less with No. 84 streaking down the sidelines.

The Ravens have a good, young receiving corps with rookies like Clarence Moore, Devard Darling and third-year player Randy Hymes. With a year or two in the system and in the weight room they could become good players, but they could become contaminated by Moss.

This team doesn't need another Hollywood act. There was enough of a circus this season with the Ray Lewis "Miked Up" segments, the Ed Reed posturing, the Owens and Deion Sanders star watches, Court TV with Jamal Lewis, Chris McAlister going AWOL and the shootout and gambling escapades of Corey Fuller.

Enough of the drama, already.

The Ravens are just like a lot of other NFL teams. They like to preach about character, but have become a team of characters. Billick is in the background saying he can control Moss, and if he can't then Ray Lewis can.

No one can control Moss, not even Moss. How about Ray Lewis just being a football player again instead of being a recruiter, part-time coach and part-time general manager? Instead of picking up Moss' $7.5 million contract for next season and possibly mortgaging away the future, the Ravens' top priority should be finding a right guard and right tackle, and trying to find a free-agent receiver like Pittsburgh's Plaxico Burress or Cincinnati's T.J. Houshmandzadeh. They could use a big, wide body on the defensive line, and possibly another cornerback.

They should model themselves after the Patriots, a team without star players, but role players who are well-coached and disciplined. The Ravens used to be like that. The only star was Ray Lewis.

Now they keep trying to go Hollywood. Owner Steve Bisciotti said he was going to be a hands-off owner, but he did a lot of talking in team meetings last week.

It's time for him and general manager Ozzie Newsome to speak again. The Ravens need to say no to the Vikings and Moss, and all the headaches he can bring.

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