If Randy Moss actually follows through with his retirement, he'll end his career on a far different note from that which the rest of his career played out.
"After weighing his options and contemplating offers, he's decided to retire," Moss's agent Joel Segal said according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The announcement is a departure from the direction in which Moss was leaning two weeks ago, when Segal said Moss was in "freakish shape" and was "going to be Randy Moss -- a difference-maker."
Moss's career took a turn for the bizarre last year. Entering the final year of his contract in New England, Moss told reporters "it kind of feels like I am not wanted."
After the first game of the season, Moss lashed out at the media, saying "Anything I say will probably be blown out of proportion," and reiterated his desire "to be appreciated." Moss then reportedly asked the Patriots for a trade.
The Patriots traded Moss to the Vikings October 6, and even the way the story of Moss's trade broke was odd. ESPN's Bill Simmons accidentally posted "Moss Vikings" on Twitter the night before the trade, and then clarified his statement.
"Sorry that last tweet was supposed to be a DM (direct message)," Simmons posted. "Rumors swirling about a Pats-Minny trade for Randy Moss." Moss' tenure with the Vikings was short-lived, and he paved his road out of town with a bizarre post-game press conference in which he fumed over a fine he had received for refusing to speak with the media.
"For the league to fine me $25,000 I'm not going to answer any more questions for the rest of this year," Moss said. "If it's going to be an interview, I'm going to conduct it, so I'll answer my own questions, ask myself the questions, then give ya'll the answers."
Moss also criticized the Vikings' coaching staff for not listening to his input when game-planning against the Patriots.
"I tried to prepare; tried to talk to the coaches and players about how this game was going to be played -- a couple tendencies here and a couple tendencies there," Moss said. "But the bad part about it, you have six days to prepare for a team and on the seventh day, that's Sunday, meaning today, I guess they come over to me and say, 'Dang Moss, you were right about a couple plays and a couple schemes that they were going to run. It hurts as a player that you put a lot of hard work in all week and toward the end of the week, Sunday, when you get on the field, that is when they acknowledge the hard work you have put in all week. So that is a disappointment."
The Vikings released Moss two days later, and the Tennessee Titans acquired him on the waiver wire. The Titans' locker room tumbled into disarray over conflict between quarterback Vince Young and coach Jeff Fisher, and Moss disappeared on the field, catching only six passes for a total of 80 yards.
Moss won't let his career end on that note. Like many athletes, his self-worth is strongly tied to his performance on the field. He'll want his name to be associated with the go routes and jump balls that made "getting Moss'd" an entire generation of defensive backs' worst nightmare. If he leaves the game at this point in his career, he'll instead be remembered for the oddities that followed him wherever he went in his final season.
For all of the well-deserved heat Moss has taken for giving up on plays, he places a high importance on winning. In his ill fated press conference after the Vikings' loss to New England, Moss pined for a return to a team where he could help win.
"To be able to come in here and see those guys, running plays and I know what they're doing, and the success they had on the field, the running game, so I kind of know what type of feeling they have on their locker room, man," Moss said. "I just want to be able to tell the guys, I miss the hell out of them, every last helmet in that locker room."
By retiring now, Moss would never return to the dominance he craves. When motivated, Moss has been one of the most game-changing receivers in the history of the NFL. After being traded from Oakland for merely a fourth-round pick, a humbled Moss caught broke the single-season record for receiving touchdowns. After being similarly embarrassed by the outcome of his 2010 season, Moss surely desires a chance to redeem himself on the field.
Moss's retirement announcement is merely a cry for help and attention. Now he's "officially" announced his retirement, his name is back in the news. With the free agent wide receiver market drying up quickly, rumors will tie Moss to any team with wide receiver issues in the preseason.
Eventually, some coach will think highly of himself to believe he has what it takes to get Moss, who is a game-changer at his best and a cantankerous locker-room cancer at his worst, to perform at a high level this year. By the start of the season a team that envisions itself as a receiver away from Super Bowl contention will take a risk on Moss, who will come out of retirement as long as the team offers enough "straight cash, homie."