A few years ago, when asked by Viking Update his thoughts on passing on the opportunity to select Randy Moss in the 1998 draft, Jones didn’t mince words.
“It’s one of the biggest regrets I have had in my professional life,” Jones said.
One noted draft expert had said of Moss that, if not for his off-field issues, he would have been announced as the first pick 15 minutes before the draft officially started – even though that draft included Peyton Manning.
Instead, Moss wasn’t taken until the 21st pick. With each pick, Moss became more frustrated. But, as the draft got to the No. 8 pick, Moss’ mood had changed. He knew he was going to hear his name called.
The Dallas Cowboys were on clock and Jerry Jones, who had been present at a private workout of Moss, had confided to the wide receiver from Marshall that if he was still on the board when the Cowboys were set to pick, he would make Moss the Dallas selection.
When the New Orleans Saints announced that Kyle Turley was going to be their pick at No. 7, all the pieces had fallen into place. But there was a problem.
Dallas didn’t take Moss. The Cowboys took Greg Ellis.
Moss was furious. He vowed revenge against everyone who passed him up, with special emphasis on the Cincinnati Bengals, who had two picks to grab him and didn’t, and the Tennessee Oilers, who selected wide receiver Kevin Dyson instead of Moss. But he had a special version of revenge for Dallas.
He wanted to punish the Cowboys.
When Moss made his Dallas visit, Jones scrapped the official itinerary and sent Moss for a private meeting at the home of Deion Sanders. He laid out how much the Cowboys wanted him to help keep the team of the decade of the ‘90s strong into the next decade. As Moss would say years later, “The love that I received and the conversations that I had for those 48 hours had me believing that I was going to be a Dallas Cowboy up until draft day.”
It didn’t happen and Moss had a code of vendetta that he laid out on Dallas every time they met.
In his first meeting with Dallas on Thanksgiving Day of his rookie year, Moss caught just three passes, but all of them went for touchdowns. From that point on, Moss relished in punishing the Cowboys, which he did just about every time the two teams met.
Every time Moss had a huge game, whether against Dallas or not, it was salt in Jones’ wound. He had the chance to obtain a rare field-tilter and he didn’t do it.
There seem to be ironic similarities in the 17 years that have passed from the time when Jones turned his back on acquiring Moss and the potential to acquire Adrian Peterson.
Dallas isn’t far away from being a team that can compete for a Super Bowl. The biggest hurdle in the way of that goal is at running back, where the current depth chart doesn’t have DeMarco Murray at the top, it has Darren McFadden.
Ironically, McFadden was the first player to receive the tag of being “the next Adrian Peterson” and fail to live up to it. In seven seasons with Oakland, he has rushed for 4,247 yards – a 607-yard average that includes 29 missed games (an average of four games every year). Yet, he’s the guy who’s going to be “The Man” in Big D?
As the sands run through the hourglass until they run out on Thursday, Jones will have to think, rethink, rethink and rethink again. Perhaps because Moss did his Dallas damage with the Vikings could play in Jones’ though process. Would he be willing to part with the 27th pick for Peterson?
If he does, Jones can clear his conscience. If he doesn’t, history may repeat itself in the nightmares that may torment Jones again if he doesn’t pull the trigger.
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