Moss' mouth motors
He backs Tice but says plenty of other things need to change
BY SEAN JENSEN
Leave it to all-pro receiver Randy Moss to amplify the unceasing whispers at Winter Park of the team's inferior accommodations and arrangements.
During an extensive interview Thursday, Moss backed head coach Mike Tice, dismissed the continued talk of his new maturity and emphatically criticized his work environment.
"There's a lot of (expletive) around here that needs to be changed," Moss said. "You name it — from people, to the administration, all the way to the (expletive) Metrodome.
"If I was the owner or general manager, I would do it. But I'm not, so to hell with it."
Moss raised the subject when asked if an ownership change would affect him because he's under contract through the 2008 NFL season. But he said he would care only if the team were getting a new practice facility, new jerseys and a new stadium.
"But since we ain't got that, hell, no it don't matter," Moss said. "I don't give a (expletive) who owns us."
Other than the Vikings' logo, Moss said he'd change "everything" because there's too much about the franchise that he considers mundane, from the practice facility, to the food, to the parking at the Metrodome to the team's training camp in Mankato, Minn.
Moss said he's unfazed by these issues becuse, he's entering his seventh Vikings season, but he insisted that he spoke for others in the organization, namely players.
"It's a whole lot of stuff out there that a lot of people complain about," he said. "But at the same time, when them lights come on at 12 o'clock (at the Metrodome), you're not even thinking about complaining. You're thinking about playing football.
"But after that game, you come here (to Winter Park) on Monday, and we still got to come look at this piece-of-(expletive) facility, this piece-of-(expletive) floor."
Vikings owner Red McCombs politely declined to address Moss' specific complaints, although he did say the organization is built around the players. Over the past year, McCombs has approved improvements to the turf in the indoor practice field, the carpeting at Winter Park and in the players' lounge. The Metrodome also has new artificial turf.
"We do a pretty good job with the tools we have to work with," McCombs said. "Everything we do is geared toward the football team. That doesn't mean we meet all the wishes of every member, but that's our philosophy."
Moss said money doesn't fix all the problems, and he offered Tice as an example.
"He shows us the most love (since) I've been here, as far as getting us here to work, stop beating around the bush and getting us out of here," Moss said. "If you want us to perform on Sunday, then give us some love throughout the week."
For instance, Moss said he and several teammates have food delivered to them because they don't like the fare available at Winter Park. But he added that it's unrealistic to expect treatment like the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, who are pampered by eccentric owner Mark Cuban.
One aspect of the Vikings he wouldn't criticize is the coach.
"Coach Tice is well-respected around here," he said. "I mean, guys love him, and the reason guys love him is because he's straightforward and he doesn't beat around the bush, and he doesn't sugarcoat anything. When you have guys' attention … that can only take you to the top."
Asked if he wanted Tice to remain his coach for the foreseeable future, Moss said: "This is a business, man. I said the same about Denny (Green), and you see what happened. This is a business. If coach Tice is here, I'm cool with that. If he's not here, I got to work with it."
Throughout Green's tenure, Moss cast his support for the coach who absorbed criticism for selecting Moss with the 21st pick of the 1998 draft. But Moss' approval didn't prevent Green's ouster at the end of the 2001 NFL season.
Moss said the constant talks of him maturing have been overblown.
"That's what ticks me off, because my mindset and approach has been the same," Moss said. "Everybody talks about the maturity of Moss, the maturity of Daunte (Culpepper). It's not the maturity of Daunte, it's not the maturity of me. It's you're putting the guys around us that are mature.
"So when it's gut-check time — to make the big play or make the big block — you're not just counting on me and Daunte." "You have other guys that have been in that position."
Moss said he is, more mindful of mentoring younger players. He was leery of doing that in his first few seasons because he didn't want to "bombard" players with information and tips.
"If there's anyway that I have matured, that's one way I have matured, because I felt that they can take a lot of stuff in," he said. "As long as I see and feel they can handle that, then I'll keep doing it."
As for the team's expectations this season, forgive Moss — who has played in two NFC championship games — for being somewhat guarded.
"I guess when you've been in the game for a period of time, you can see things developing right before your eyes," he said. "I can see this team developing into a good team. But if we keep having good teams each year, how many years are we going to keep calling last year's team a good team?"
Sean Jensen covers the Vikings and the NFL. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org