Culpepper says organization might be fed up
Moss' future in Minnesota is in doubt after the least impressive season in his seven-year career. After years of ignoring the receiver's eccentricities and excusing his misbehaviors, the Vikings seem to be fed up with Moss, and even Culpepper understands.
"He's my good friend, but you almost get to thinking that maybe enough is enough," Culpepper said after Wednesday's practice for his third Pro Bowl appearance in five seasons. "And maybe the Vikings organization has had enough."
Moss, meanwhile -- in an interview slated for broadcast on KFAN Radio on Thursday -- suggested that he would prefer to stay with the Vikings.
"If I get traded from here ... I'm gonna probably be a little sore, a little mad, but not at the organization -- probably just because I'm leaving here, and [losing] the love that I've developed here of growing to love the game and Minnesota," he told the station.
Moss caught just 49 passes for 767 yards this season, though he still scored 13 touchdowns. A hamstring injury limited him for much of the year.
Moss infuriated his teammates and coaches by walking off the field when the Vikings attempted an onside kick with 2 seconds left in the regular season finale at Washington.
And though he played with a sprained ankle in the postseason, he drew more ire -- and a $10,000 fine from the NFL -- for pretending to moon Green Bay fans after scoring the final touchdown in Minnesota's playoff victory at Lambeau Field.
Moss was left off the NFC's Pro Bowl roster for just the second time in his career, and Culpepper hasn't spoken to him since Minnesota's season ended with a 27-14 playoff loss to Philadelphia last month.
"It's not my decision, what happens with Randy," Culpepper said. "The Vikings organization makes that decision, and whatever they do, that's what's going to happen. I wouldn't be surprised, no matter what happens."
Many league observers believe the Vikings will attempt to trade Moss, if they haven't tried already this offseason -- though his hefty contract and extensive collection of baggage could make it difficult. So far, team officials have denied the widespread rumors about ongoing trade talks regarding Moss, saying the team hasn't completed its offseason personnel meetings.
Vikings center Matt Birk, who will play in his fourth Pro Bowl in seven seasons, said the club sometimes must "take the good with the bad" when Moss is involved.
It's difficult to say what a trade might bring to Minnesota. When the San Francisco 49ers traded Terrell Owens last winter, they got a second-round pick from Baltimore -- but when that deal was invalidated by the league, they got only defensive lineman Brandon Whiting from Philadelphia.
Owens was still under contract to San Francisco only because of a paperwork mistake that prevented him from becoming a free agent, while Moss is in the middle of a lucrative long-term contract. The Vikings almost certainly would need a solid veteran and a high draft pick to be persuaded to give up one of the NFL's best playmakers.
Culpepper and Moss have been together throughout the quarterback's career, but Culpepper has been frustrated by Moss' unique style. Culpepper even has been seen yelling at the receiver occasionally.
Still, Moss' abilities are a big reason why Culpepper has become a star in the Vikings' powerful offense. Culpepper set franchise records with 4,717 yards passing and 39 touchdowns while completing 69.2 percent of his throws.
"We had a great year, and nothing about Randy's situation should take away from that," Culpepper said. "I was blessed. It just shows that hard work pays off."
And that's why Culpepper is ambivalent about Moss' possible departure. He believes Minnesota should keep together as much of that offense as possible, reserving its biggest changes for the defense.
"There are a lot of things we can do to improve on defense, and some of that you might be able to do with a trade," Culpepper said. "We've also got a lot of guys who can get the job done if we just play together. That's the most important thing: all of us playing together as a team."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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