I got some time on the phone with Washington Redskins' wide receiver Santana Moss on Friday, and one of the many insightful things he said during the course of our conversation could, I believe, pass for a team motto as this season gets ready to begin.
"At the end of the day," Moss said, "we don't really care what the outside world thinks."
The outside world expected the Redskins to draft a quarterback in April and they didn't. But the players inside the Redskins' locker room were on board with the decision to stick with Rex Grossman and John Beck.
"Getting a new quarterback and having him have to come in and learn what we do and go through what [Donovan] McNabb went through last year would have set us back, I think," Moss said. "What you look for in a quarterback is, is he that guy who fits what you do. I feel like Rex and John were 'that guy' for our offense, and they were already here."
The outside world yawned when it was announced last week that Grossman had beaten out Beck for the job of starting quarterback. The Redskins' players were happy.
"The guy we decided to go with, which a lot of us agreed on, Rex, has been in this offense a little longer and understands what he's supposed to do in terms of that quick pace we want to play out there," Moss said. "John did a great job of coming in and showing us he was able to pick up the offense and run it. But Rex has been in it a little longer, and I think that makes a difference."
The outside world keeps seeing star quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees and Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger in the Super Bowl every year and disputes the notion that the offensive "system" is a higher priority than is the identity of the man running it. But Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan believe in their system, and Moss buys in. See, the outside world might have expected Moss to test free agency this offseason rather than sign back with the Redskins and their work-in-progress offense. But Washington has become the only place Moss wants to play.
"Since I got here in '05, I've had no doubt this is where I should have been," Moss said. "This town, from Day One, showed me that love, and the team gave me that ability to be the type of player I can be -- play the whole field, be everywhere. I never had a chance before I got here to really do all that I can do on a football field."
The outside world struggles to comprehend what a player as good as Moss sees in a team like the Redskins, who haven't exactly been enjoying a golden age while he's been there. They've turned over coaching staffs and quarterback multiple times since Moss got to town, and the biggest constant has been owner Daniel Snyder, who is not exactly well thought of by the outside world.
"Daniel Snyder always does his best to win," Moss said. "If you like the way he does it or not, oh well, but the moves he makes are always made with the intention to help the team win. And that includes now, letting Coach Shanahan use his expertise of picking players and the right guys for this team."
Shanahan has picked Grossman to start at quarterback at the start of this year. And as the Redskins begin their season this afternoon against the New York Giants, they know full well what the outside world thinks about that decision and their overall chances for this season.
But as Moss said, they really don't care.