EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Randy Moss appeared genuinely giddy Thursday after the first practice of his second tenure with the Minnesota Vikings, encouraging longtime fans to "pull out your 84 jerseys" and predicting his first game back at the Metrodome will be "bananas." But Moss also had a sharp rebuke prepared for those of us who have fixated on the rowdy segments of his first seven years in Minnesota.
"I'm not trying to live in the past," he said. "You can call it what you want. I did have a few mix-ups here, but who didn't? What if I had been on that boat? It would have really been some problems [then], wouldn't it?"
It was one of the best and most appropriate lines I've heard Moss utter. For all the problems he caused the Vikings from 1998-04, the single most embarrassing incident in franchise history -- the infamous Lake Minnetonka boat party -- came the year after his departure. It was a fair and relatively subtle way of suggesting that, as with everything, context is important.
As we discussed Wednesday, a lot of variables must come together quickly for this trade to push the Vikings back into Super Bowl contention. But I don't mind saying that what I heard Thursday was a good first step.
Moss discussed the "deep depression" he fell into after the Vikings traded him in 2004 and said "I still feel obligated to make this thing happen" in Minnesota. He said he still owns a purple truck and has found that most people "know me being in the purple 84." He referred to beaming owner Zygi Wilf as "the bossman" and pledged: "I don't want people to think that this thing is going to go sour."
Why should we believe him? Frankly, after being fired three times in the past six years, Moss doesn't really deserve the benefit of the doubt. But Thursday was a good start.
I liked that he plans to take a secondary role in the locker room. "I'm not coming here to try to be vocal," he said. "I'm just here to play." Indeed, the best thing Moss can do is allow the longtime leaders of this team, the ones who helped pick up the pieces after his departure, maintain their posts in the locker room.
Although he has abandoned the intentions he once had for being a team leader, Moss still has maintained the supreme confidence that has helped him maximize his abilities. Notably, he laughed at the implications of losing a step at age 33.
"As far as my physical ability -- of course, I've lost a step," he said. "But me losing a step compared to everybody else, I'm still one of the fastest guys in the league. So, we'll just leave it at that."
You don't have to tell his new quarterback. When it was his turn to stand behind the podium, Brett Favre joked: "We're just going to throw it up, and there's 11 guys on him, and you just throw it up to him. There may be times when that's the case. I was just joking, Ten guys, maybe."
But in all reality, what you've just read is the exact combination this team needs. It'll take a less volatile Moss, but one who still believes he is the fastest man on the field. They'll need a quarterback who is willing to throw it his way under any circumstances. A little humor and some realism won't hurt, either.
Moss II has only one day in the books. But for the Vikings, it was a good one.