Moss-Owens Rivalry Overblown

Controversy sells. It's a simple premise. And one that is currently getting a lot of ink in newspaper and air time from talking heads. But, is it real?

Back in the days before the Internet was the source of most information relayed from one team to another, there was a term that spoke volumes: locker room wall.

One player would say something disparaging another player or team and it would get posted on the wall of a locker room -- giving players a reminder that someone is talking smack about their team.

The latest round of comments heading into Monday night's Vikings-Eagles game smacks of the same nonsense that is typically reserved for politics -- where "swift boat" becomes a term people suddenly recognize.

The latest round of controversy surrounds Randy Moss and Terrell Owens -- two fabulous wide receivers who will meet for the second time Monday night. Moss, who rarely grants interviews, did so last Sunday following the win over the Cowboys. We're now learning once again why he doesn't do it that often.

As part of the questioning, Moss was asked about T.O. and the upcoming game. As happened following the Vikings loss to the Giants in the 2000 NFC title game and earlier this year when a comment made by coach Mike Tice about Moss being a "tough nut to crack" was somehow construed to mean Moss is nuts, the feeding frenzy of media types barely above the level of celebrity paparazzi has begun.

VU was at the Moss interview following Sunday's win. When asked about the matchup with the Eagles and his opposite go-to receiver, Moss made a simple statement. It was as follows: "Nobody sees the coverages I see. There's no comparison."

That was it. He wasn't dogging Owens. He wasn't saying he's the greatest -- although even his detractors have to admit he's the best at his position in the NFL and has been for some time. He answered a question -- pure and simple.

But, in the FOX News world we live in now, writers and analysts who weren't even there for the context of the comment have stepped up to make the remark a slap in the face to Owens. At first, Owens refused to take the bait from Philly hacks that wanted to make their job easier by getting into a tabloid war. But, Owens has never been accused of being a Mensa member and it was inevitable that he would put his size 11 firmly and squarely into his mouth -- bringing up Moss' off-field problems from his distant past -- giving local hacks the same opportunity to do a "he said, he said" bit to splash across the front page of the sports section. To his credit, Moss didn't take the bait.

The reality, whether Twin Cities or Philly media have the guts to admit it, has been a blown out creation of their own. They've distorted the facts for one reason -- we've become a society that rubber-necks to see a dead body in a car accident. It's sad. But it's true.

The only comparisons that should be made between Moss and Owens is which one comes away with a "W" on Monday. The rest is B.S. It sells papers, but it should be noted that the best newspaper story ever written ends up being used to wrap up coffee grounds or to potty train puppies. If that's how they want to twist the truth, so be it. But the reality is far different from the war of words. Games are won on the field by football players, not writers who saw their football dreams die during their Pop Warner days.

SUNDAY NOTES
* As reported Friday here, the Vikings announced Saturday that Moe Williams will be deactivated for Monday's game. Keenan Howry will be activated for the game and is expected to return punts. The Vikings plan to save Mewelde Moore from punt return duties in the event he's needed for running back needs.
* What should be the focus of Monday's game is that Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb are the two highest-rated quarterbacks in the NFL. After one game, Culpepper has a QB rating of 147.1, while McNabb has a rating of 137.5.
* For those confused about how QB ratings are done, you're not alone. Moss completed one pass and has a QB rating of 118.8. Cowboys punter Mat McBriar, who threw an ugly pass over his head on a botched field goal attempt, has a rating of 39.6. Miami's Jay Fiedler, who is actually a quarterback (sort of), has a a rating of 8.0.
* Morten Andersen will tie the all-time NFL record for games played set by George Blanda Monday, when he plays his 340th NFL game.
* The Sporting News on-line preview for the Vikings-Eagles game gives check marks for everything from positions to coaching and, of the 11 categories listed, gave the Eagles the edge in nine of the 11 -- only giving the Vikes the edge at QB and wide receiver. Eight of their "experts" all picked the Eagles to win the game. Why they give the Eagles the edge at offensive line remains a mystery, but that's irrelevant. With such domination one would expect a blowout. Their official score prediction? Eagles win 38-35. With such a disparity, one would think 38-7 would be more accurate.

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