Will the Texans Gather Moss?

June 6, 2001
Will the Texans Gather Moss?
By Ric Sweeney

Did you ever see Police Academy, the first one starring Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith and that guy who made noises with his mouth? In it, Guttenberg plays Carey Mahoney, a smart ass social misfit who runs afoul of Johnny Law and is given a choice: join the Police Academy to help the department boost its enrollment numbers, or go straight to jail. Ever the schemer, Mahoney opts for the Academy, thinking he’ll show up and promptly quit on the first day. Sound plan until he realizes there’s a catch: if he tries to quit, he’ll be forced to serve his prison sentence, with a few years tacked on for good measure.

Backed into a corner, and facing six weeks of basic training, Mahoney happens upon a possible alternative: what if he goes ahead and enrolls but then gets himself kicked out? Technically, getting kicked out is not the same thing as quitting, and for a smart ass, social misfit like Carey Mahoney, getting himself thrown out should prove about as easy as coaxing a Dallas-area sports fan to join the Lakers’ bandwagon. So Mahoney begins exploiting this loophole while, at the same time, trying to exploit Kim Catrell’s loophole.

(Random note: I saw Catrell this week on Sex and the City’s season premiere, and as remarkable as Catrell may look now [she’s like 60, right?], she was absolutely hot as all get out in the early 80’s, during the Porky’s/Police Academy-era. Miss Honeywell in the boys’ locker-room… check please.)

Anyway… I’m reminded of that seminal 80’s romp while watching the Randy Moss saga unfold in Minnesota. Moss wants desperately to be football’s highest paid player – not receiver, mind you, but player. Meaning Moss wants Bledsoe dollars ($103M/10 years), and feels strongly that if the Vikes can’t/won’t ante up, someone else surely will when he becomes a free agent in 2002. Excuse me, that should read, “If Moss becomes a free agent in 2002.” Here’s the catch: the Vikings could, and likely would slap the franchise tag on the game’s most dominant receiver, which would probably end up costing him $4 to 5 million a year over the life of his next contract. That’s because as a franchise player, Minnesota (who would retain Moss’ rights) is only obligated to pay him the average salary of the five highest-paid receivers. And there’s not much Moss can do about it.

So right now, Randy Moss is Carey Mahoney, doing everything he can to make himself as unattractive a prospect to the Vikings as humanly possible – all in a desperate hope that the team will “throw him out” (i.e. not franchise him), thereby allowing him to cash in his free agent ticket.

How has he gone about this? Never the most congenial guy to begin with, Moss has gotten downright surly and dismissive with both his teammates and the Minnesota media. In addition, he’s had run-ins with Target Center employees and airline attendants, each of which sparked mini-controversies in the Twin Cities. He then skipped out on a charity event that he had previously agreed to attend, and when asked why, said that he had forgotten about it. Moss followed that episode up with his, at the time, most defiant act: breaking off contract talks with the team and later admitting finishing his career as a Viking was by no means a priority. Last month, (in a move I gar-un-tee he made while uttering “checkmate” in his best Sean Connery) he signed a basketball contract with a team in the USBL (the Chicago Bulls, I think), making himself a prime injury risk and thus, a seemingly poor long-term investment. Next up, he’ll replace owner Red McCombs’ shampoo with super glue.

If Moss is somehow successful in his quasi-Mahoney-esque quest to get out from under Minnesota’s seemingly ironclad upper hand, then he’ll be the primo free agent next year. And guess who will have more cap room than Juan Agosto to go out and make Moss financially giddy?

But don’t hold your breath — there’s no way Randy Moss will ever be a Texan. None. Zero. Zip. Rod Tidwell would rank as a higher free agent priority.

Moss doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, resemble the type of class individual Bob McNair would like to see represent his organization (unless, of course, we spotted him the “C” and the “L”). And there’s simply too much at stake for the Texans to even dream about hitching up their pristine new franchise to a loose cannon like Moss, which leads us to a common misconception about the Texans that I’m about to blow out of the water.

There’s a growing sense that this new team of ours can do no wrong, that they’re Olajuwon, circa ’94, in the eyes of local sports fans jacked up about the NFL’s return, but I don’t see it that way at all. In fact, I think McNair and company have their work cut out for them in selling this team to Houston.

First, and foremost, love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Oilers are going to prove to be a tough act to follow, I guarantee it. I don’t care how much you hate Bud Adams, or how many times you swore you’d never watch another Oiler game as long as you lived (my personal count on those items: more than Oprah loves food and 1,345 separate times), they played a significant role in all of our sports-watching lives. Thus, their void is going to be bigger than we ever could’ve possibly imagined, and if this hasn’t hit you yet, just wait until the first time you cheer for a team NOT wearing sissy blue jerseys – we’re talking weird in a Angelina and Billy Bob kind of way. Trust me.

In fact, the Oilers made such an impression on so many, that more than a few still consider them their team, even though they now play home games in Tennessee. I have no idea if these people are in deep denial, geography flunkies or just total morons, but I still read about and hear Houstonians using the first person when talking about the Titans, which, to me anyway, makes about as much sense as… well, Tennesseans pretending Earl Campbell’s a part of their history. Like I said, big, sucking void…

Plus, look at how people reacted to the new name unveiled last September. The Chronicle filled an entire page with supposed fans bitching and complaining about McNair’s choice. Some of them actually swore not to cheer for the team because of the name. Allow me to repeat that, because it bears repeating: people actually swore not to cheer for the Texans because they didn’t like the nickname. If I had to rank indefensible stances one could take, not cheering for a team because of its nickname would have to rank just above “The KKK isn’t that bad.” Seriously.

Such infantile behavior over such an insignificant issue says a lot about where, exactly, McNair stands with a lot of fans in this town – on eggshells. The Texans are not the Oilers, and more than a few want to make damn sure McNair realizes this. There will be no free passes come 2002.

And we haven’t even touched on the “Keeping up with the Jones” factor, namely Jerrah up in big D. By the time 2002 rolls around, Jones will have had five unabated years of sinking his yellow teeth deeper into the necks of Houston football fans. Once Adams left town, Houstonians had few football options available to them, so more than a few panicked and ran to the Dark Side. And it didn’t help that local sports bars and radio stations such as KLOL were overly anxious to play Marcellus Wallace to Jones’ Gimp. So not only do the Texans have to operate under the Oilers’ ominous cloud, they have to also somehow address the Cowboys’ infiltration as well.

In other words, this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a slam-dunk for McNair, and it’s obvious he realizes this. Since winning the 32nd franchise, McNair’s been, relatively-speaking, readily accessible; he’s gone out of his way to curry favor with the local media, who all seem to rightly adore him, and he’s made sure to at least give the impression that the fans are as much a part of this start-up process as he is. In short, he’s Bizarro Bud Adams.

So, imagine him going to all this trouble to win back Houston, and then dumping Randy Moss into our collective laps. Us, the fans weaned on guys like Earl, Nolan, Dream, Bags. We wouldn’t know what to do with a guy like Moss, we’d panic, we’d revolt, we’d sink McNair’s ship. You could argue we made it through the Barkley Era, but Moss is a different breed altogether. Moss has a posse, for God’s sake.

For McNair to bring Randy Moss here, to us, a group of fans that have grown comfortable with great, but ultimately bland superstars, and who are not entirely ready to give ourselves over to the Texans just yet, would be a disaster on scale with… well, Police Academy 2-8.

So let’s nip this in the bud now and get it out of the way — Randy Moss is not an option.

If it were up to him, Ric Sweeney would sign Randy Moss in a heartbeat, but generally speaking, he’s not usually contacted about these matters. If you’d like to contact him about personnel moves in the future, please feel free to email him.