Harvin disappointed with Moss decision

Perhaps no one in the Vikings locker room is as affected by the release of Randy Moss as Percy Harvin, and that's on and off the field. Harvin talked in-depth about what he learned from Moss, where the team goes from here and his enduring relationship with Moss.

For the players that were in the Vikings locker room Wednesday, much of the attention was targeted toward the empty locker of Randy Moss. His nameplate was gone. All that remained were a half dozen metal hangars, yet the TV cameras made a point to all fire up their lights and shoot the empty locker. Gone, but not forgotten.

With Moss landing in Tennessee, he leaves a Vikings locker room behind that seems as much confused as anything as to the swift, guillotine-like way Moss left the team. Perhaps nobody was hit harder than receiver Percy Harvin.

Harvin said he felt blessed last year when Brett Favre arrived. It allowed him to hone his new craft with one of the best of all time. He learned a lot about the game from Favre, who, on their first meeting, told Harvin to get as much tape of Wes Welker and watch what he does to beat defenses and find zones.

As much as Harvin appreciated being a student with Sensei Brett, becoming a teammate with Randy Moss, one of the most intimidating deep threats in NFL history, left Harvin giddy. Moss offered advice. Harvin eagerly listened. When he and his teammates were abruptly, unexpectedly informed that Moss had been released, Harvin was one of many whose jaws dropped in stunned silence. Was he disappointed? Was he angry? Was it a combo?

"I can't speak for everybody else, but for me it's a little bit of both," Harvin said. "But it's part of the business. I've just got to move on. This team has to move on. We'll be fine."

What made the news even more difficult for Harvin to digest was that Childress essentially just told the players Moss was out without giving an explanation. In most cases, players had to guess whether it was unilaterally opting not to fly back with the team following Sunday's game – Childress said that was planned 10 days earlier – disparaging remarks made to a caterer that angered some, or other behind-closed-doors dissent. All the players were told was that Moss was gone, leaving most to try to guess why.

"The explanation – we didn't really get one," Harvin said. "I'm just trying not to feed into too much. It is what it is. This team has to move on. This offense has to move on. We'll just take it as that and continue to get better."

While there is no such thing as November Fools Day, at first Harvin and some other players around him thought Childress might be breaking out his dry sense of humor. It didn't take long to know that Chilly wasn't looking to get a tight 20-minute set for the Chuckle Hut. He was serious. Dead serious.

"It definitely surprised us," Harvin said. "We kind of looked at (Childress) kind of like ‘Are you serious?' It came out of nowhere. It caught a lot of us off guard. That's Coach's decision and, if he felt it was for the betterment of the team, then that's what it is."

Had Harvin had a voice in the decision, it is clear it would have been different. But, despite being teammates for less than a month, Harvin may have been one of the closest to Moss into the Vikings locker room. In a short time, it became obvious that Moss and Harvin forged a friendship that went beyond the field and will continue.

"It's tough, but the whole thing wasn't my decision," Harvin said. "We're friends. We'll remain friends. The things he taught me, I will continue to use that to help elevate my game. The only thing that has changed is that we're not teammates, but we're still in contact."

Harvin said he absorbed a lot of valuable information. Asked to pinpoint one particular thing Moss taught him, he paused and said it was difficult to limit it to one.

"It was no biggest thing, it was everything – from little details to real big things," Harvin said. "I wouldn't nitpick one thing that we specifically worked on, but he definitely expanded my game a whole lot."

He reaffirmed that his friendship has included a couple of phone conversations with Moss since the announcement of his release. He didn't get into specifics of what was said, but said their bond won't be broken by the latest Vikings roster move.

"We've had a couple of conversations," Harvin said. "I wished him the best and we both basically said that we're not teammates anymore, but we'll talk and we'll continue to have a friendship."

Harvin enjoyed the arrival of Moss on the field as much as anyone. Giddy about moving back into his natural position in the slot, Harvin's numbers were able to bear out the value of defenses sliding safeties Moss' way. In the three games before Moss arrived, Harvin was targeted 20 times, catching 12 passes for 106 yards and one touchdown. In the four games with Moss, he was targeted 32 times, catching 19 passes for 287 yards and two TDs. Before Moss, he averaged nine yards a catch. After his arrival, he averaged 15 yards. The thought of going back to previous numbers and coverage isn't on Harvin's wish list.

"It definitely will make things a little tougher with the double teams and the brackets," Harvin said. "I'm sure we're going to see a lot more of that coming up. We just have to game plan around that and we'll see this next game and down the road how teams start to play us."
The quick irrevocable move was yet another introduction to Harvin of the business of football – how careers can be changed in the blink of an eye. One day you're there. The next day you're gone.

"It opened my eyes a little bit than they already had. I take it for what it is and try to move on," Harvin said.

The big question is how the move will affect the locker room. Not everybody loved Moss like Harvin, but there are questions as to whether the timing of the move could damage the locker room. Harvin said it's possible, but that the bond the team has forged is what they will lean on to move on and get past the failed Moss experiment.

"(It's) in the back of my mind, I'm sure it's the back of other people's minds," Harvin said. "But it's a close-knit family here, so we'll stay close and find a way to (overcome) all this."

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

Viking Update Top Stories