Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Updated: February 28, 1:58 PM ET
Neither team will confirm agreement
MINNEAPOLIS -- Matthew VanderPlas just can't seem to picture his beloved Minnesota Vikings without star receiver Randy Moss. He's not alone.
Football fans here reacted with anger and bewilderment on Wednesday to news that the Vikings have agreed to trade Moss to the Oakland Raiders for linebacker Napoleon Harris, the seventh pick in the NFL draft and a late-round pick in the draft.
"I think it was a big mistake for us, trading him," VanderPlas, 22, said while eating dinner at Hubert's, a Minneapolis sports bar adjacent to the Metrodome. "The reason they're on Monday Night Football, the reason they're on (ESPN) Sunday Night Football is because we had Moss. Not because we had (Daunte) Culpepper, not because of our defense, obviously. It's because we had Moss.
"People want to watch a game-changing wide receiver that stretches the field. It's just like watching Michael Jordan. People watch the game because he's exciting. He's going to be one of the best players in history, hands down," VanderPlas said.
Neither the Vikings nor the Raiders would confirm the deal, which cannot be completed until March 2, but Moss' agent, Dante DiTrapano, told The Associated Press that Vikings and Raiders had "come to an agreement on Randy playing for Oakland next year."
"Bad idea," said Greg Naylor, a 28-year-old Minneapolis resident. "They got a No. 1 pick in exchange, but Randy Moss is the No. 1 that comes along every 20 years. I think it's a terrible idea."
Many fans shared a similar sentiment.
Of the first 10 callers to an evening sports talk show on KFAN-AM, nine said the trade was a bad idea, with the lone approval coming from a professed Chicago Bears fan.
While not completely opposed to the idea of trading Moss, most fans were looking for a big-name defensive player and a high draft pick for the Vikings' star.
"Who's this guy, Napoleon Dynamite?" Naylor asked, in a reference to the cult comedy film.
For the record, Harris is a five-year veteran who had 61 tackles in nine starts for the Raiders last season.
Most seemed to be looking past Moss' history of questionable behavior -- leaving the field early in a loss to Washington this season, bumping a traffic control officer in 2002, verbally abusing corporate sponsors on a team bus in 2001 and squirting an official with a water bottle in 1999.
"Moss acts like a 14-year-old sometimes, but he's not terrible," Naylor said.
VanderPlas said Moss' production on the field "outweighs everything (negative) he's done."
"Everything's blown up because Moss unfortunately screwed up before he got to the pros, so they look at him as a big troublemaker," VanderPlas said, referring to Moss losing scholarships at two universities before landing at Marshall. "I don't think anybody can argue with his production on the field. How can you sit there and say that trading a guy like that is a good idea?"