I’ll start by saying that I’m biased – I’m a Randy Moss fan.  I have a #84 jersey in my closet.

I’m not going to say that Moss is a saint.  Clearly he’s not.  He ran into legal issues in high school (although race did play a role in the most prominent incident) and had had issues with marijuana.  He had a number of incidents while he was in the NFL.  He certainly wasn’t the best teammate in the world – but were some of the events overblown?

  • There’s the negative perception of Moss taking plays off.  I’m not completely convinced that this is a terrible thing.  I wonder how many players take off plays but use a different phrase to describe it.  If you want to have fresh legs in the fourth quarter, it might make sense to conserve some energy in the first three quarters – especially if you can drag a couple of defenders away from the ball by acting as a decoy and using 50% of your energy.  But I’ll conceded this point and agree that it’s bad for Moss to take off plays.  In spite of this, he had 153 touchdowns and nearly 15,000 receiving yards – he was incredibly productive most years. 
  • One of the more famous incidents is the mock mooning of the Packers fans in 2005.  Joe Buck about had a heart attack when this happened.  Seriously, Joe?  Moss didn’t actually drop his pants, he just pretended to – and he was parroting the actions of Packers fan who greet the opposing team bus with a real mooning.  I’m not going to say this was in good taste, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as Joe Buck would make it out to be.  Much ado about nothing.  Also, when Joe Buck is against you, you must be doing something right.  Most overrated broadcaster out there. 

While Moss was getting trashed in the media for taking off plays and pretending to moon people, here’s what some other NFL players were doing:

  • Rae Carruth (former Carolina Panther wide receiver) had his pregnant girlfriend killed
  • Michael Vick killed dogs
  • PacMan Jones was charged with felony coercion and misdemeanor counts of battery and threat to life related to a strip club shooting that left a man paralyzed (and has bounced between the suspended list and the active roster like a ping pong ball over the years)
  • Ray Lewis was convicted of obstruction of justice following a murder
  • Two seasons after finishing his NFL career, police found 213 pounds of marijuana in a van owned by Nate Newton.  Incredibly, a month later,  he was caught again – this time with 175 pounds of marijuana in the van (give him credit for being persistent, I guess)
  • Twenty five years after being bounced from the NFL, Art Schlichter is still popping up on police blotters.  You can wade through his mess of a life on Wikipedia
  • Ben Roethlisberger has been consistenly guilty of, um, “conduct unbecoming a gentleman”

This is the tip of the iceberg.  You don’t have to do much work to find a list of NFL players with long rap sheets, including violent crime.

So, what’s my point?  Keep things in perspective.  While Randy Moss may not be remembered as the best teammate ever, he’s often portrayed as a bona fide “bad guy”, and I’m not sure that’s the case, especially when compared to the list above.  Off the field, Moss is active in charity work, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the press clippings.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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