New twist in Moss tale

The wide receiver's return to Minnesota from the New England Patriots is an about-turn by both parties.

Randy Moss stretches at a Vikings practice.
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Randy Moss was being petulant. No longer his team's primary receiver, he was running some routes unenthusiastically and running his mouth off the field. So he was traded … by the Minnesota Vikings. Time - in this case six years - heals all wounds.

The Vikings, who dealt Moss to Oakland after the 2004 season, welcomed back the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver this past week out of sheer desperation.

The Vikings invested at least US$13 million (Dh47.7m), plus a lot of sweat equity, into bringing back Brett Favre this season. With Sidney Rice sidelined (hip surgery) and Percy Harvin hurting (recurring migraines), Favre's receiver corps was depleted. Favre's next opponent: the New York Jets, with a shutdown secondary and possible lingering ill will toward his departure from the team two years ago.

So Minnesota opened arms wide once New England got fed up with Moss. His exit was inevitable after telling the media he felt unwanted by the Patriots, who were paying him $6.4m in the last year of his contract. Since the trade, Moss has done what he does best - switch personalities. "I'm very fortunate to be back home where it all started," Moss said after the trade. "To all the Vikings fan coming to the Metrodome, pull your '84' jerseys out. It's going to be a fun ride."

As one who demands the ball and pouts when it is not delivered to his satisfaction, Moss is the original diva NFL receiver. Various successors have taken his act to extremes, particularly in drawing attention to themselves off the field. Moss was arrested by Minneapolis police for allegedly assaulting a traffic control agent with his car. He caught flak for cussing out team corporate sponsors on the team bus.

But usually, he confines his naughtiness to between the lines, squirting a referee with a water bottle, goading the Green Bay Packers crowd after a touchdown reception and leaving the sideline once before a game was over. Tomorrow night's game will mark the second time in three weeks that Moss has confronted the Jets. While the Patriots took no parting shots at Moss - "We never had problems with Randy," Vince Wilfork, a former teammate, said, and Bill Belichick, the coach, denied reports of a half-time blow-up with an assistant coach - Darrelle Revis, the New York cornerback, had a different take.

"In the second half, you could tell he was putting his foot on the brake," Revis said. "I mean, everybody knows that's Randy. Sometimes he plays at 100 per cent, sometimes he doesn't."