Handling Moss A Delicate Situation

Vikings coach Mike Tice does about as good a job handling Randy Moss as anyone could. And that's no easy task.

Once again, Vikings coach Mike Tice finds himself wondering how in the world he can ever control superstar receiver Randy Moss.

Well, Mike, the answer is simple: You can't.

Nobody can.

Some argue Moss wouldn't act the way he does if he played for Bill Parcells or Joe Gibbs.

They're wrong. Moss would be the same magnificently talented but moody player anywhere he played. Just like Tice, the legendary coaches would have to accept it, work to manage it as best they could or give up and hand over one of the best players in the league to another team.

Tice wisely chooses to live with it and downplay the headaches that Moss creates. One of those moments came Sunday at Washington when Moss walked off the field with two seconds left and the Vikings lining up for an onside kick in a game they lost 21-18.

Tice is rarely careful with his words, but he was on Monday when asked about Moss leaving the field early. Tice said he spoke with a remorseful Moss for an hour by phone the night before and another hour in his office that morning.

Tice said he "understood" Moss' frustrations because of another loss and said it was a "poor decision" to walk off the field. Tice went on to say, "We can't let our frustrations make us make poor decisions."

Other players have gotten much stronger public tongue lashings from Tice for a lot less. But, hey, anyone who doesn't think there are rules for superstars and rules for everybody else is living in a fantasy land.

Tice was asked if Moss would be disciplined for what he did.

"No," Tice said. "I'll keep what I sad to Randy to myself. We had two very extensive conversations, and we'll leave it at that.

"He understands the judgment that he made was not the best judgment for him, me and the football team. He can make it up to us. He can go out and make a whole lot of plays this week."

And that's why you have to take special care in dealing with Moss.

Had Tice slammed down his fist, embarrassed Moss and announced a fine or some other form of punishment, Moss would have basically tanked it this week. Now, it's quite possible he will have a huge game in Sunday's wild-card meeting with the Packers in Green Bay.

What Tice should do, and has done, is make sure some of the Vikings' other high-profile players get on Moss' case about what happened last week. Pro Bowlers Matt Birk and Daunte Culpepper already have spoken to Moss about it and, in a rare move, were public in their criticism of Moss' behavior.

Tice actually handles Moss as well as anyone could. Moss seems to respect the fact Tice played 14 NFL seasons. Tice also is 6-foot-8, 300 pounds, which works to his advantage.

But as good a relationship as Tice has with Moss, there will be more moments similar to the end of the Washington game, or worse, to deal with down the road.

The key is to find a way to manage them, move on and hope the moody one catches three TDs the next week.

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