McCombs Weighs In

Vikings owner Red McCombs has lit yet another fire under the "non-incident" involving Randy Moss -- requesting that FOX Sports broadcaster Joe Buck be taken off Sunday's telecast of the Vikings-Eagles game.

The Randy Moss incident – VU won't get caught up in the 300th "whatever-Gate" reference the rest of the local and national media want to apply to it – has truly taken on a life of its own.

On Wednesday, the Vikings released a statement from owner Red McCombs asking that FOX play-by-play announcer Joe Buck be removed from Sunday's Vikings-Eagles broadcast, citing that Buck's comments about Moss' faux-mooning of Packers fans in the north end zone "suggested a prejudice that surpassed objective reporting."

FOX, the same network that brought us such must-see programming as "pseudo-celebrity" boxing matches between Greg Brady and Danny Partridge, Horshack and Screech, and Tonya Harding and Paula Jones, has taken a philosophical high road – to the point of having house pit bull Bill O'Reilly speak out condemning Moss. This has become more than just an inside joke.

As reported almost immediately following the celebratory display by Moss by VU, what Moss did was in response to numerous incidents of Vikings player buses being mooned by Packers fans following losses at Lambeau. Don't be confused. The cheeks bared weren't those of the Swedish Bikini Team. It was, in its own sad, silly way, a tribute to an opponent deemed worthy of mocking.

While Buck's self-righteous indignation wasn't necessarily wrong – he obviously didn't know the history surrounding the gesture – he opened a floodgate that allowed the entire FOX postgame crew – Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long and James Brown – to take turns ripping Moss and the Vikings. Chris Berman and Tom Jackson soon followed. Even Michael Irvin chimed in with his shock and awe – a tad ironic considering previous ESPN stories about Irvin being found in a hotel with cocaine and strippers/hookers (take your pick).

There have been no winners in this situation. Moss was wrong for what he did – even he will likely admit that – but it has been so incredibly blown out of proportion that it really doesn't warrant all the fuss.

Does McCombs have a right to be angry? Probably not. What Moss did lowered him to the level of the hard core face painter – not exactly the barometer for class in our society. Was Buck wrong? Definitely. To make his initial "disgusting" remark was a knee-jerk reaction. Had he known the history, he may have taken it a different way. But he didn't. Controversy sells in sports. Ratings are the Holy Grail and, if it gets more people to watch, FOX is all in.

Should Buck be removed from the broadcast Sunday? No. He earned his right – whether through skill, genealogy or both – to be the voice of the game for the network that pays him.

In the final analysis, it shouldn't matter what owners or talking heads think. It's still the game that is the show. We should be talking about the matchup between Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb. That's something worth debating.

* Antoine Winfield was named Defensive Player of the Week for his performance vs. the Packers. Despite his credentials, it is the first time Winfield has won the honor – regular season or postseason.
* In an ironic twist, former Viking Doug Brien, who missed a chip-shot field goal earlier in his game with the Jets vs. the Chargers, was named Special Teams Player of the Week – the fifth time he's won that honor. Obviously, none of those five came as a member of the Vikings.
* Eagles linebacker Mark Simoneau is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game. We'll believe it when we see it.

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