I've openly discussed with my colleagues and friends (non-49ers fans) about the San Francisco 49ers' acquisition of Randy Moss. Roughly 90-95% of the people I spoke with do not believe at all that this will be an impact move by any means. NFL fans outside of the 49ers fan base are so mesmerized by Moss' negative antics, that they've seem to have forgotten what an unbelievable player he was.
Moss' history includes completely unannounced rants slandering his own organization and fan base, quitting on plays and general negative acts of spontaneity. People don't believe in Randy Moss because they've been conditioned to understand he's not trustworthy, and you cannot believe in something you don't trust.
Even though he been known to be a loose cannon or too mouthy, there are identifiable variables that trigger this sort of behavior.
The notable times he has quit on the field have been with poor football teams (Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans and his second stint with the Minnesota Vikings). San Francisco is an extremely talented and ascending ball club that, with Jim Harbaugh, has never completely been out of a game at any point.
In this video where Moss goes off on a tangent about the New England Patriots, his sensitivity and spontaneity shine through. The overall message from Moss was that he wanted to feel "appreciated," whether it was in the form of a contract or some kind words after a nice play.
His immaturity can be seen here when he was in his second stint with the Minnesota Vikings. He publically longed for another organization -- New England -- in the post-game press conference following the loss to the Patriots. Being on a losing team is one of Moss' most notorious triggers.
But then there is the Hall of Fame Randy Moss.
This is a player that's proved to be unstoppable if he chooses. This is the player that Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers hope and believe they signed -- one last hoorah from an NFL great. Now, they think they got this player -- the motivated Randy Moss -- because his two biggest triggers won't be an issue in San Francisco.
Harbaugh has this uncanny ability to make 20 and 30-plus-year-old professional males feel like kids playing a pickup game. Moss will both be on a winning team and feel appreciated. Still weeks away from training camp, and Harbaugh has already manifested ways to make Moss feel appreciated.
In OTA's and minicamp, Harbaugh allowed Moss to be a player-coach, helping the other 49ers with his grandiose expertise. Between that, and all of the "oohing and awing" from coaches and peers, Moss has been his old self again.
San Francisco is also an early Super Bowl favorite, taking a 13-3 record to the NFC Championship with Alex Smith and a top-tier defense in 2011. Moss is a smart player; he knows that with the added weaponry and where this team is headed that he made the right choice -- this team is going to win with or without him. Since a Super Bowl ring is practically the one thing not on his illustrious resume', Moss will be firing on all cylinders with this miraculous opportunity in front of him.
The consensus has been that, physically, he's looked fantastic already. A number of 49ers players and coaches, as well as the media have gone as far as to say that he has not lost a step.
This is a historically dominant athlete too; he was voted No. 65 on the NFL's Top 100 Greatest Players. His old coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings and former Super Bowl winning head coach, Brian Billick, broke down the athlete and phenomenon that is Randy Moss.
I've embedded the video here but there were two particularly points I wanted to highlight. Billick made several relevant notions, but when he spoke about the pure athlete that Moss is, he might have been the greatest to ever play the receiver position.
NFL Films Top 100 Greatest Players #65 Randy Moss
Brian Billick on Randy Moss:
"We talk about an impact player, we talk about that player that you have to account for on every down - and we probably overuse it because there is only a handful of guys - Randy Moss is one of the guys. And the threat that he has, on any given play, to kill you deep, the thing that every defense is most worried about, he's a true difference-maker."
"Legitimate guys that have legitimate numbers, I bet you that he's in the top 5 in the fastest, tallest, the highest leaping ability and the best hands. That freakish combination of those four, I don't think we've ever seen before and I'm not sure we'll see again."
These are things Moss will be able to provide this coming season with San Francisco. There are no obstacles in sight that would trigger one of his notorious sideshow breakdowns, so with all things considered, the 49ers might have the steal of free agency in Moss. He single-handedly adds a dimension to the 49ers offense that it has not had in over a decade.
People can go ahead and bad mouth Moss or be non-believers when it comes to this season, but to me, the odds are heavily weighing in favor of the Moss-49ers relationship working out. These two need one another and together they could do great things. Moss knows when he retired the first time, the perception of him wasn't what he wanted it to be -- sort of "the greatest that never was." This is his chance to win a Super Bowl, finish on a high note and help erase the negative way in which a lot of football fans perceive him.
In life, second chances are few and far between, so I expect Moss to capitalize on this extraordinary opportunity.