Much Ado About Nut-hing

What do you get when you cross a coach who can't portray an analogy, a player who can't understand it, a gossip columnist and the father of a top draft pick? A ridiculous controversy over Randy Moss' future with the Vikings.

When VU first heard about Twin Cities gossip columnist Cheryl Johnson running with a story that Randy Moss wants to be traded, like most gossip stories, we ignored it.

But, when ESPN starts broadcasting the story as fact, it's easy to see how "people using big words" can get in trouble.

How the story goes according to what we've been told, when speaking to Red McCombs, coach Mike Tice referred to Randy Moss as "a tough nut to crack." Tice, in a fashion typically seen only among Euoropean philosophers and offensive line coaches, made the analogy that if Moss was a nut, he had cracked about 70 percent of it. Interpretation? He hasn't completely figured out what motivates Moss, but he's learning.

Tice may be many things, but a wordsmith is not among them. How a nut is cracked in a percentile is something only Tice can explain, but, to most observers, they understood the jist of what he was saying if not why he said it.

Enter Larry Fitzgerald Sr. stage left. Fitzgerald, who for several years served as Denny Green's personal lap dog and public relations consultant -- along with the perks of that position -- got into the fray by speaking with Moss. Fitzgerald said that Moss is livid and wants to be traded.

Somewhere along the line, being told he was a tough nut to crack got transposed into that Tice thinks Moss is crazy. While VU let it slide as an argument being blown out of proportion by a gossip columnist and a sports reporter looking to get his name in the mainstream press, not everyone saw it this way.

On ESPN's talking head extravaganza "Around the Horn," it gave wanna-be stand up comedian columnists like Jay Mariotti and Woody Paige a chance to retread some of their old Moss material as the story was taken as legitimate. Mariotti actually had to apologize after a commercial break because in his "Evening at the Improv" rant, he was mistaken in thinking McCombs had made the "nut" comment. Without benefit of even reading the yellow pages from which it came, he vented an unwanted opinion that didn't let something trivial like the facts get in the way.

The bottom line is that this was an unfortunate miscommunication. Tice is no Longfellow or Shelley when it comes to articulating himself. Moss is no Stephen Hawking when it comes to intelligence and C.J. and Honeyfitz are no "60 Minutes" correspondents.

Moss is going nowhere and this will smooth over soon enough. It was just a misunderstanding blown out of proportion -- for whatever reason. Don't panic, Vikings fans. Moss will be back.

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