Childress tells Vikes in team meeting Moss is gone

Published 2:48 pm Monday, November 1, 2010

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Just four weeks ago, Randy Moss gushed about returning to Minnesota. He felt fortunate to return to his first team and was looking forward to seeing those purple No. 84 jerseys again.

So much for the happy reunion.

After three disappointing losses in four games, Vikings players confirmed Monday that coach Brad Childress informed them during a team meeting that the wide receiver had been let go. The move had not been made official with the league but Moss’ agent, Joel Segal, said he’s been in contact with Minnesota and the delay was “merely a technical thing,” he said in an e-mail.

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The NFL Network first reported the struggling Vikings (2-5) had waived the six-time Pro Bowler less than a month after acquiring him from New England for a third-round draft pick. The cut came one day after Moss’ rant following a 28-18 loss the Patriots, during which he was wistful about his days in New England and critical of the Vikings for not taking his game-planning advice.

It was another shocker in tumultuous season for a team that began the year with Super Bowl aspirations. Childress and other Vikings officials didn’t respond to messages seeking confirmation of the decision.

About an hour before the news came out, Childress took 12 consecutive questions during his regular news conference about Moss, his effort, and his mindset in response to a rant by Moss following Sunday night’s 28-18 loss to the Patriots.

Moss, who was fined $25,000 last week for failing to cooperate with the media and make himself regularly available for interviews, stepped to the podium after the game but announced he wouldn’t take any questions. He repeatedly expressed admiration for coach Bill Belichick and his former team and criticized the Vikings for not taking enough of his game-planning advice.

Moss had only one catch for 8 yards against the Patriots. In four games for the Vikings, he had 13 receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns.

Childress didn’t mention the move when he talked to reporters Monday and said Moss was staying back in the Boston area for a few days to spend time with family. Asked whether he regretted acquiring Moss, the coach said “not at present.”

Moss, who was traded from Minnesota to Oakland in 2005 after finding his share of trouble and frustrating the organization with his attitude, expressed eagerness to connect with Brett Favre when he arrived and talked about how much he still loved Vikings fans some 5 1/2 years after his departure.

While his presence opened the field for wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has blossomed into one of the league’s most dangerous offensive players, Moss never materialized into the deep threat the Vikings sought when they traded for him Oct. 7. His longest catch was a 37-yarder, and he was only targeted twice against the Patriots.

“I’m definitely down that we lost this game. I didn’t expect we’d lose this game,” Moss said. “I don’t know how many more times I’ll be in New England again. But I leave coach Belichick and those guys with a salute: ’I love you guys. I miss you. I’m out.”’

Childress said Monday he didn’t see Moss’ remarks as “incendiary.” The closest he came to criticizing him was acknowledging he could’ve caught a pass that fell incomplete in the end zone while the Patriots were called for pass interference.

“But again, I don’t know,” Childress said. “He was restricted. If they called pass interference, there had to be some kind of restriction.”

Asked whether he felt Moss had been playing hard, Childress said, “He’s playing hard when he needs to play hard.”

Linebacker Ben Leber was one of a handful of players who appeared in the locker room and expressed surprise at the move. But he didn’t sound happy about Moss’ postgame remarks, either.

“It was just, ’Wow,”’ Leber said. “Just because it sounded like it was unprompted and sounded like he wanted to get some stuff off his chest. He certainly has every right to do that. I don’t think that’s the way to do it.”

Leber said Childress didn’t give the team much of an explanation.

“He didn’t really dive into any details,” Leber said. “Just said, ’That’s where we’re going to go with it.”’

Moss’s contract called for a $6.4 million base salary this season — leaving the Vikings on the hook for at least $1.5 million. If Moss is claimed on waivers, the team that signs him is responsible for the remainder of his salary. If he clears waivers, then he can sign as a free agent under new terms.

Claiming priority is based on inverse order of the current standings, so the Patriots — who lead the league at 6-1 — would be last. Belichick declined comment Monday.

“You can’t bait me into it,” he said.

His players, though, expressed surprise that their former teammate is available again.

“I’m just hearing about this right now. Crazy,” right guard Stephen Neal said.

Whether Moss would be welcomed back, well, that’s up to Belichick.

“Whatever he decides we’re open to as a team, and I’m sure he’ll do what’s best for the organization,” wide receiver Wes Welker said.


AP Sports Writer Howard Ulman in Foxborough, Mass., contributed to this report.