With only three late games on Sunday and none of them all that compelling down the stretch, it was a great night to watch all of Football Night in America, on NBC.
One segment of the show included an extended discussion regarding Patriots receiver Randy Moss, and whether he quit on the Patriots today.
Surprisingly, both Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison argued that Moss didn’t quit, despite plenty of evidence suggesting that he did. Dungy at one point seemed to cast blame toward Pats coach Bill Belichick for sending Moss and three other players home after they showed up late for work on Wednesday.
“I think Randy Moss played a poor game,” Dungy said. “It probably started early in the week. I coached thirteen years as a head coach. I’ve reprimanded guys, I’ve fined guys. I never sent a guy home from practice, and I think that had to impact Moss.”
Harrison said that the being sent home hampered Moss’ confidence, given the work he has done to repair his image and his reputation.
But we’ve seen Moss come out strong in the face of tough circumstances in the past, using that desire to prove someone wrong as fuel to inspire 150 yards receiving and a couple of touches.
Usually, however, Moss is reacting to external scrutiny. He rarely has had to deal with criticism or consequences imposed by the team for which he plays.
Eventually, Dan Patrick asked Dungy and Harrison whether Moss is fragile.
“That might be a good word,” Dungy said.
Harrison then painted with a broader brush. “As players, we’re all fragile. We’re all sensitive. . . . [but Moss] has to go out there and continue to play.”
Whether he does remains to be seen. The Patriots remain in first place in the AFC East, with a one-game lead over the Jets and the Dolphins. Next up? A trip to Buffalo, for a game against the Bills and the self-described “original 81.”
It would be a great time for the “other 81” to play like the old 84.