October 07, 2010
Moss Trade Spikes My Patriots Kool-Aid
BY: Kevin Rousseau
I was getting my Patriots groove back on last Monday night.
In retrospect, I spent money I probably shouldn't have on a trip to Miami to fulfill one of those crazy childhood visions that we all have. But going to see a Patriots night game in Miami was quite a treat. The weather was nice, the atmosphere around the game was charged and then the second half happened.
It was probably the most fun I've had watching the Patriots in a while. Lesser known players like Rob Ninkovich were having the games of their lives. The Patriots were making jaw-dropping plays on special teams and the offense was just efficient enough. It felt like it did back in the earlier part of the decade when you had no idea where the next Patriots hero was going to come from.
I concluded a few weeks back that following the Patriots in the Randy Moss era was akin to being a Yankees fan. Where was the fun in just meeting expectations? What happens to you as a fan when not much is surprising anymore? I liked it more when it was a surprise every week and a no-name special teamer was going to affect the outcome of the game.
I would never would have guessed as Patrick Chung came racing towards my seat twice that I was going to be surprised--really surprised--by the Patriots one day later with the news that Randy Moss was going to be traded. You want uncertainty and new guys to root for, Rousseau? Well, you got it.
I suppose that if I had a sports radio talk show I would have to give you a hard line opinion on the Moss trade. No middle ground allowed in that medium. I would have to say something to the effect that this was pure insanity by the Patriots or that it was finally time to turn this locker room distraction loose.
Tangent Warning. Tangent Warning. Can we stop using the phrase "clubhouse cancer" when describing a player like Moss or Manny Ramirez? If you've lost a loved one to the real thing, hearing some guy haul off about Moss "being a cancer spreading around the locker room" is at one time both sickening and amusing. It's football, folks. Entertainment, really. It's not life or death. Ok, thanks for the tangent. My pink Patriots breast cancer hat looks pretty snazzy, thank you very much.
But maybe you go back and forth on this whole mess like I have for the last few days. The cons are that this is going to make the Patriots offense much more vanilla and predictable. Maybe the distraction that he had become was worth tolerating for a touchdown or two just about every game. And we've seen dropping a key veteran player have a devastating effect on recent Patriots teams. Deion Branch would have come in handy against the Colts in the 2006 AFC Championship Game and Richard Seymour certainly would have helped the nearly non-existent pass rush last season.
Another reason you might have thought this stunk was that they gave away the game's premier deep threat in mid-season for just a 3rd round pick. Is that really the best deal that could be had? Really? If he was such a distratction and Bill Belichick wanted to send a message to his young locker room, how about just suspending him for a portion or all of the remainder of the season a la Terry Glenn? A compensatory third round pick would have come the Patriots way when Moss signed with another team in the 2011 offseason. Moss got what he wanted and the Patriots accomodated him.
Then you talk to a friend or two and give it some more thought. If you're like me, you like a lot of these young players a lot. You wonder if a Gronkowski or Hernandez jersey is in your future. I've seen just about everything with this team over the years and I've concluded that an unexpected 10-6 season with new heroes and pulse-pounding finishes is much more exciting that a 12-4 season where Super Bowl expectations were dashed in an early playoff exit.
No more deal with the devil with Moss. There has never been a player quite like him for the Patriots. He changed how team's looked at the Patriots and indeed how Patriots fans viewed their team. Suddenly, it wasn't a grind-it-out, win-at-the-last-second club. It was now a flashy "We're going to put 59 points up on you before you know what hit you" kinda club. Make no mistake, Moss was easily the most breathtaking Patriots player that I have ever seen. It just came at a price, knowing that it could blow up at any minute.
Which it eventually did at some point this season in Foxboro. We will likely never know all of the details of just what exactly did or did not occur around Belichick and Moss. I go back and forth on whether it was a good thing or not but I've accepted it and want to move on. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle. The Patriots will not be nearly as explosive and will lose a few more games than perhaps they would have otherwise because of this. Yet, it is now clearly a new era, with new players to get behind like Chung, Gronkowski, Spikes and McCourty. The cord has been cut.
I suppose I'm excited for something new and interesting around the Patriots. I can't wait to see how it turns out.
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