49ers receiver Randy Moss did a lot of talking on UStream after he decided to return to the NFL and before he found a team. Since finding a team, he hasn’t done much talking.
On Friday at training camp, he did.
“These guys here love to work, they love to compete and they know just by me signing here it’s just something that me being around a great group of guys [who are] young and enthusiastic makes me feel young, too,” Moss said in comments broadcast on ESPN’s NFL Live. “The love that I have for the game of football is gonna always be in me and I just wanna play football and that’s just really being here and Coach Harbaugh and this organization accepting me and bringing me here was just something hopefully I can give something back in return and that’s with my play and my presence out on and off the field.”
Also on Friday, coach Jim Harbaugh continued with the gushing that has emanated from multiple members of the organization throughout the offseason. “The funnest part is out on the practice field,” Harbaugh said. “I get some joy being around Randy Moss out there. He’s got a knack for saying the right thing at the right time. The right joke at the right time.”
The joke ultimately may be on those who are ready to write off Randy’s chances of playing well in 2012. After his comments were played during NFL Live and Herm Edwards said Moss could catch 10 touchdown passes this year, Adam Schefter and Bill Polian were skeptical, to say the least.
“Ten touchdowns is awfully high for a player who was out of football last year, who had a minimal impact the year before, who basically hasn’t made a contribution — a meaningful contribution — since 2009,” Schefter said. “There’s a spot for him in the San Francisco 49ers offense. But we’re not getting the 25-year-old Randy Moss, we’re getting the 35-year-old Randy Moss.”
Polian was more blunt.
“The guy I saw two years ago, played against was not the Randy Moss who set records in New England,” Polian said. “I didn’t see any explosion, didn’t see any speed. [Editor's note: Darrelle Revis may disagree.] So, he’ll have to make a believer out of me. If he’s doing well by Week Eight then he’s back. Otherwise, I have my doubts.”
It would be easy to agree, given the manner in which Moss disappeared in Tennessee after being essentially fired by two teams in less than a month. But two factors could prove them wrong.
First, the praise of Moss from his teammates, both for his performance and his attitude, has been universal and unequivocal. Everyone in San Fran loves the guy, and everyone who has seen him work since joining the 49ers believes he can still get it done.
Second, we’ve seen this movie before from Moss. After his second year with the Raiders in 2006, the popular view was that Moss was washed up, that he was done, that he couldn’t run.
Rejuvenated by a trade to the Patriots, Moss ran down Jerry Rice’s record for single-season touchdown receptions, propelling the Pats to the first undefeated 16-game season.
When Randy’s head isn’t in it, it doesn’t matter what his body can do. When Randy is ready to go, his team will get the best of whatever he has.
The point is that we shouldn’t assume anything about Randy’s physical abilities based on what we saw in 2010 because his performance was hampered by the fact that he didn’t care.
He cares now.
“I play when I wanna play.” It arguably belongs on his tombstone. For now, it should prompt anyone who thinks based on 2010 that he won’t have it in 2012 to think again.