Risk vs. Reward: The Randy Moss Edition

Sam Obitz / November 4th, 2010 / No Comments »

Almost every decision in life comes down to weighing the potential benefits against the potential hazards of the choice. In the case of Randy Moss, who was recently released by the Minnesota Vikings (soon after wearing out his welcome with the New England Patriots), 21-teams passed up the chance to grab the future Hall of Fame member before team number 22 in the pecking order, the Tennessee Titans, decided to roll the dice with him.

Why would so many teams pass on such an accomplished player? There are a number of reasons, but I suspect the main reason was the old adage that there is no “I” in team. In a span of less than one month, Randy Moss has shown that he puts himself above the good of the team with two separate teams. If a star player does not assimilate into the team’s structure and buy into its practices, then a star player becomes a divisive factor and begins to tear a team apart. I cannot think of a single star football player that has won a Super Bowl by himself. If all it took was a star player to win a Super Bowl, then all-time greats like Barry Sanders and Gayle Sayers would be flush with Super Bowl rings.

Winning takes a culture where values are shared among all team members and no one member is held above the others (note: the Patriots have not lost a game since unloading Moss). This is why we always hear championship teams refer to the family atmosphere on their teams and in their organizations. As soon as members of a team see that certain members of the team are receiving preferential treatment, the bonds of trust begin to crack and eventually the team sinks.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the most talented players that get the most playing time on most professional teams. If you talk to coaches inside the successful organizations, they will tell you that they have players on the bench that are substantially more gifted than many of their starters. It’s the players who work the hardest, both mentally and physically, and produce the most that get a majority of the playing time. This is why you see so many phenomenal college players wash out in the pros; they never learned the work ethic or the mental side of the game that is necessary to take their talents to the highest levels.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule and Randy Moss may be considered one of them, but over time, a player’s character always catches up to them and the risks overshadow the potential gains they offer to a team. I always root for players and I’m rooting for Randy Moss to turn things around. Unfortunately, like many players in his situation, I suspect he is surrounded by people who tell him what he wants to hear and no one who tells him what he needs to hear.

I have a great deal of respect for Titan Coach Jeff Fisher and I would hope after the rough month Randy has gone through, he will be receptive his new coach’s input and conditions. As Titans fullback Ahmard Harris says “If anyone can control Randy Moss and deal with Randy Moss it would be Coach Fisher, with how he approaches everything, Coach Fisher will sit down and talk to him and have a man-to-man talk about what he expects and how he sets the tone and the atmosphere here. So I think he’ll fit right in.’’

For the Titan’s and Randy’s sake let’s all hope he’s right.

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