- Chris Forsberg, Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss arrived at the interview podium following New England's 38-24 triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday stressing that he was "not here to talk" or "cause trouble," but then he rambled for nearly 16 minutes while trying to explain comments in which he said he felt unwanted in New England.
Moss, who didn't speak to the assembled media during the preseason and often limits his postgame interviews to a handful of questions, sounded off unprompted about criticism levied on him after he had suggested earlier this week that he was unhappy with the Patriots as he entered the final year of his contract.
Along the way, Moss deemed his relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft as "fair," suggested that if the Patriots waited to offer him a new deal in the offseason it would be a "smack in the face," and opined that "from a business standpoint, this will be my last year with the Patriots."
Moss stressed that he wouldn't let his feelings of under-appreciation affect his play on the gridiron this season, but noted that every employee needs to be reminded of his value.
Asked if a new contract would make him feel appreciated, Moss said: "I don't want to talk about contracts. I just want to let you all know that I'm here to play my last season out."
Moss didn't need 16 minutes to accomplish that. But he had plenty on his mind after telling CBSSports.com earlier this week that he wasn't happy with his situation.
"When you have done so much and put so much work in, it kind of feels like I am not wanted," Moss said on Sept. 6. "I am taking that in stride and playing my final year out and whatever the future holds is what it holds, but it is kind of a bad feeling -- feeling not wanted. It is not like my production has gone down. I am speaking from an individual standpoint. I don't know about [Patriots quarterback] Tom [Brady's] or whoever else's contract.
"I am a little older and understand the nature of the business -- the older you get the more your skills supposedly diminish, but I think I am getting wiser in how to use my physical skills. That's the frustrating part when you put so much heart and desire into things and feel like you are not wanted."
Brady came to Moss's defense soon after, saying he appreciates Moss.
"There's only one Randy Moss that will ever play this game," said Brady. "He's the greatest, probably, downfield receiver in the history of the NFL. Those catches that he makes, where you guys see he runs 65 yards down the field, you throw it and he just runs and catches it. That's impossible to do."
Moss didn't have any long hauls Sunday against the Bengals and actually dropped a bomb from Brady in the first half. He finished with five catches for 59 yards.
That's usually not a performance that would land Moss at the interview podium, but he clearly arrived with an agenda.
"I want to let [reporters] know, let the fans, the real fans of New England, know that I'm not here to cause any trouble, I'm here to play the last year out on my contract," Moss said Sunday. "I said time and time again before I signed my first contract here, I want to be in New England; it's a well-coached group here. I never said I wanted to leave New England, there's a lot of things that are being written or being said that have people looking at me in a negative light. I don't want to be in a negative light. I want everybody to understand -- you can print it, I don't care how you put it to ink -- I want to be here with the Patriots. I love being here. I just think that, from a business standpoint, this will be my last year with the Patriots and I'm not retiring; I'm still going to play some football. I just want to get that off my chest. Understand that this is a business."
Moss, who wasn't voted a captain by his teammates this season after holding that honor last year, picked a curious time to sound off. When a reporter noted that the receiver would come off looking selfish for speaking out after a solid all-around effort by his team, Moss didn't slow up.
"I can say, honestly, I don't really talk much," said Moss. "I don't want to take away from the win, but before the season gets started -- I don't want to be in Week 10, Week 11 or Week 12, talking about a contract. Basically, what I want to let you all know is that I know this is the last year of my contract. I'm here to play it out, and I want to play some damn good football.
"That's basically what I'm trying to tell you. But if I wait until Week 12, Week 13, that's not going to be good for me. I have two or three guys on me sometimes. I don't want to wait until Week 9, Week 10, Week 11, then I have a bad game and now the table turns on me like, 'Oh he doesn't want to be here.' That's what I don't want to happen. I'm not disrespecting the organization, I'm not disrespecting my teammates for the victory we had today against the Cincinnati Bengals. This is my first time talking this year and I want to get it out there. It's not being disgruntled or disrespectful, this is just my first time talking."
As Wes Welker waited in the wings for his turn at the podium after scoring two touchdowns in his first game back just nine months removed from tearing his ACL, the 33-year-old Moss continued to vent and lamented the pains of his advanced age.
Moss said he knew his words could land him in coach Bill Belichick's office Monday, but still didn't stop. When asked about his relationship with Kraft, Moss expressed a disconnect.
"Mr. Kraft is a busy man," Moss said. "He's not really seen around here during the week. On the weekend? Oh yeah, he's here. We have a relationship. Is it where I want it to be, or where he wants it to be? I don't know. I don't really know how busy his schedule is, but as an owner, we have a fair relationship."
For good measure, Moss also sounded off on the New York Jets and cornerback Darrelle Revis, New England's Week 2 opponent. Revis ended a lengthy holdout last week by agreeing to a long-term extension with the Jets.
"There was a lot of talk last year -- and I'm not taking anything from him, he did some good things to be the shutdown corner that he is -- I'm not here to say that I prided my offseason on Revis," said Moss. "But like I said, I take pride in what I do. What he did last year, was something that, he opened my eyes up as a wide receiver. That there's a cornerback out here where I have to be on my 'A' game. I prided my offseason on staying off Revis Island."
Chris Forsberg is a writer for ESPNBoston.com.
Randy Moss says he wants to stay with the New England Patriots after this season, but doesn't expect that to happen.