Sunday May Be D-Day For Moss, Green

Through all his troubles with public relations, Randy Moss had one constant until the Chicago game -- the unwavering support of the fans. As fallout from his asinine remarks to the Tennessee media continues, the shine is definitely off the rose for Moss.

Randy Moss has been seen as a thug by many in the media. For a player of his talent and appreciation by football fans, no major endorsement offers have come his way, because he is viewed by many in the business as a punk who doesn't portray the image most demographic numbers crunchers look for.

However, one thing that had always remained a constant was that Moss was loved by Vikings fans -- even those who saw first-hand that the accusations of Moss taking plays off were true. That seemed to take a turn during the Sunday night loss to Chicago at the Metrodome. For the first time in his career, Moss was booed at home and even given mock cheers when he made a meaningless catch in the final seconds.

As part of his inane tirade on a conference call with Tennessee media, Moss made comments that he does take plays off, nobody can make him play hard if he doesn't want to and, if he's booed at home and sees a fan doing it, he may go after that fan.

Are these words serious or just the ramblings of a frustrated player who really doesn't know how to articulate himself very well? Perhaps a little of both. But the backlash of his remarks have caused a flood of response -- all bad -- about Moss.

When Moss was drafted, VU columnist Adrian Hallsey said he felt Moss was in a no-win situation. Regardless of what he did on the field, it would be likely that many media types would wait for his first mis-step to say "I told you so" and explain why 19 teams (Cincy twice) passed on him in the draft. Now they're getting their shot.

Moss has had a couple of bizarre quotes and his infamous water bottle incident in the playoffs vs. St. Louis, but this time it's got national headline news. From ESPN to FOX-Radio to local newspaper, television and radio reports, Moss has become news for all the wrong reasons.

He has brought this on himself and will have to silence his critics with his actions on the field.

* While he hasn't made any public comment, VU has been told by team insiders that owner Red McCombs is extremely upset over the bad publicity Moss has generated over the past few days and holds Dennis Green responsible, since it's the coach's job to handle such matters with the players in his charge.
* For his part, all Green had to say at his Thursday press conference was that he had "no reaction at all" to what Moss said. When asked if he had spoken with Moss, he said he had and asked if there were any questions about the Tennessee game. When none came immediately, the press conference abruptly ended.
* The Vikings P.R. people have a conundrum facing them Sunday. The home team decides which unit -- offense or defense -- gets announced prior to game time to whip the fans into a frenzy. It was hoped if Daunte Culpepper can make the start, it would be an emotional boost to announce his name as the starter and get the crowd going wild before gametime, but the team also fears that Moss will be booed loudly if the offense is announced -- something the team doesn't want to test, so it's quite possible that the Viking defense will be introduced before the game.
* Both the Vikings and Titans are being coy about their starting quarterback, doing a little gamesmanship with each other. Culpepper threw on the side, but didn't take part in much of Thursday's practice, as Green acknowledged that he wants to keep "a competitive edge" with keeping the Titans guessing as to who will start. The same is true in Tennessee, where Steve McNair missed most of practice again Thursday with Neil O'Donnell taking most of the snaps. However, both teams are expected to announce by tomorrow who their starter will be.
* VU has been told Jim Kleinsasser will almost certainly be one of the early inactives Sunday.
* Willie Howard was upgraded from questionable to probable in the team's injury report, while guard David Dixon and tackle Brad Badger were removed completely.

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