More Mature Moss?

Many in the media want to portray Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss as a more mature person, but even Moss isn't necessarily buying into that.

Everybody is saying it about Randy Moss except Randy Moss.

As Moss embarks on his sixth NFL season, it has become en vogue for national writers and broadcasters to report that the 2003 version of the Vikings superstar receiver is a more professional, more mature Randy Moss. We're told we won't see any more referees getting squirted with water bottles, no more traffic cop incidents, no more shock-the-world type sound bytes that instantly grab the headlines no matter how superfluous they are.

So the million-dollar question Regis Philban should be asking is: Is six-year NFL veteran Randy Moss, at 26 years old, indeed more mature? "I wouldn't say that I'm more mature, I'd say that I'm more determined to go out there and make it happen," Moss told ESPN. "I'm doing the same things I've been doing since my rookie year. I'll say what I want to say, I'll do the things I want to do, and I'll play when I want to play.

"It's really not maturity. I've been the same guy since I've been here."

Whether he's matured or not, Moss does appear from a distance to be calmer and more reserved on and off the field. His approach has changed as well.

"There's a lot more preparation to get myself ready," Moss said. "Now, I'm sort of like that teacher as opposed to a couple of years ago when I was really the student trying to learn. My approach to the game was going out there and having fun and really not paying attention to what's going on and just do what the offense told me to do. Now, it's going out there and reading coverages, reading the injury reports … just doing the little things to try to teach the younger guys."

Interestingly enough, Moss has not missed a start since he was inserted into the starting lineup early in his rookie season in 1998. Dating to his starting debut in '98 and extending through Sunday's game at Detroit, Moss has started 78 of 78 games.

The key to staying healthy? "When I'm more into being all hyped up and motivating myself, I think my body stretches itself by that alone," Moss said. "That's why I don't stretch."

Apparently, the National Football League believes Moss has undergone a maturity process since his rookie season. During the offseason, he was asked to speak at a rookie symposium on personal conduct.

"I just wanted them to know some of the troubles I've been through and what they're getting into when they become professional athletes, as far as the microphones being on them 24/7 and to warn those guys that now you're bigger than life."

As he continues his sixth season as a professional, Moss said the greatest lesson he has learned in the NFL is who he can trust and who he can't.

"I've always been a person who really sits in the back and observes things," he said. "I think for a couple of years, I tried to open up more and then I got stabbed in the back. I think the big thing is trust. Now I've gone back in my shell to trust no one."

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