MEDIA Moss not backing down from comments : LUSENET : Purple : One Thread

Published Friday, March 30, 2001

Moss not backing down from comments

Kevin Seifert / Star Tribune

Randy Moss made one thing perfectly clear Thursday night. He has not changed his mind. Granting his first interview in nearly three months, Moss refused to soften his critical comments following the Vikings' 41-0 loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship. "Whatever comes out of my mouth," Moss said, "I mean it." Moss, however, indicated he still prefers to remain with the Vikings when his contract expires next year -- despite the team's reticence to initiate extension talks. Speaking after serving as a celebrity judge for a dunk competition at Concordia University in St. Paul, Moss reiterated his doubts about his future and that of the Vikings. He also questioned whether the defense has improved, said the retirement of Robert Smith could open up the offense and downplayed recent criticism from former teammate Todd Steussie. The Vikings have had little to say about Moss' comments after the championship game. Generally, coach Dennis Green and other team officials have attributed them to frustration following an embarrassing loss. But Moss gave no such indication Thursday night. "Do I think the Vikings can win a Super Bowl?" Moss said. "I don't know. If they have a chance at winning, it's going to be hard, regardless of whether they have me or don't have me." Moss is entering the final season of the four-year contract he signed in 1998. The Vikings have intended to offer him an extension during this offseason, but they shelved that plan in February. Indications are that talks could begin this spring, but Moss acknowledged the mixed message. "I would prefer [to stay], since they drafted me and took a chance on me," he said. "I don't really feel I could go anywhere else and feel comfortable having the number 84 jersey on, if it's not the Minnesota Vikings. As far as staying here, I would love to be able to play with a guy like Daunte Culpepper, and be coached by Denny. "But at the same time, you've got to do what you think is right. This is a business. I think they'll do what they think is right. If I remain a Minnesota Viking, I'm going to do whatever is in my power to win the Super Bowl. If I'm not here, then I'm going to have to try to take the Super Bowl away from them." The Vikings have prioritized an improved defense this offseason. The team will have at least four new starters there, but Moss said the burden of success will remain with the offense. "Just because you say we have a better defense doesn't mean it's going to put us back [in the playoffs]," Moss said. "We're going to need a lot of help. Of course, it has a lot to do with the defense, but at the same time it's going to have to do with guys like myself and Culpepper. We have big shoes to fill with Robert Smith gone. "It doesn't have to do with the defense. It still has to do with the offense and the weapons we still have." That offense, Moss hopes, will provide him even more opportunities this season as it searches for ways to replace Smith. "Now maybe we can open up the pass a little more," Moss said. "I've been here going on four years, and Robert Smith has been up around 1,000 yards each time. So I can't complain about Robert's efforts and what he's done on Sundays. But I am a receiver. I like the pass. Run blocking, I'm not too fond of. If it springs a running back for a touchdown, that's good." "I'm not down on Robert Smith for retiring. It's just that we'll see a little more passing, so I guess I'm happy with that." Moss, meanwhile, again found himself the target of a Steussie barb Thursday. During a press conference to announce his signing with Carolina, Steussie said: "Randy is his own unique personality." "I felt he ... talked not so much about himself but his teammates when he talked about how we would never win a championship in Minnesota," Steussie said. "I felt like he was challenging us, when there were things that went on in the NFC championship game [where] everyone should be looking at themselves." Asked to respond to Steussie's comments, Moss said he did not want to get into a verbal battle. "I don't want to stoop myself down to his level," Moss said, "and really talk about what he's done and what I've done. I think if you look back, I've been to three straight Pro Bowls. I really don't know how many he has [two, in 1997 and 1998]. So I really don't want to stoop myself down to his level and get into a trash-talking incident. ... I'm not about conflict. I don't like

-- Mark (Karch, March 30, 2001

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