Randy Moss is going to have a huge season. The people who know him best are convinced of it. They have never seen him so eager for training camp to start. They have never seen him so focused. They have never seen him work so hard during the offseason.
They compared it to his rookie season, when he was determined to make the 20 teams that passed on him in the draft pay for their oversight. His goal then was to “rip the league up.” His friends say he is using the same language this year.
That's music to Al Davis' ears.
“Right now he’s as happy as I’ve ever seen him in his life,” said his agent and perhaps closest friend, Charleston, W.V., based lawyer Dante DiTrapano. “He’s at a place I’ve never seen him before. There’s nothing negative going on with him.”
The Minnesota Vikings have been applauded for improving defensively during the offseason and perhaps they will be better without Moss this year. But the trade that sent linebacker Napoleon Harris, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2005 draft and another late-round pick to the Vikings for one of the game's most prolific playmakers to be a boon for the Raiders.
When Randy Moss has something to prove, there’s no stopping him.
The Raiders desperately need Moss to have a big year to help the team recover from the worst back-to-back seasons since Davis took over the franchise in 1963.
The pieces seem to be in place — at least offensively. Moss is a perfect fit for the Raiders in many ways. Davis has a vertical mentality and Moss may be the greatest deep threat in history. Coach Norv Turner has had success coaching a down-the-field offense that can take advantage of Moss’ speed and athleticism. Quarterback Kerry Collins is streaky, as he proved once again last year, but he excels at throwing deep and he has spent a year in Turner’s system.
Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry should make a potent receiving tandem. The Raiders have made many questionable draft-day decisions in recent years but tackle Robert Gallery and center Jake Grove, taken in the first and second round of the 2004 draft, aren’t among them. Those two should anchor the offensive line for a decade.
Former New York Jets running back LaMont Jordan, signed as a free agent during the offseason, should be a huge upgrade at running back.
Talk to the people closest to Moss and they keep talking about how much more he was capable of in Minnesota, which is frightening considering he has more receiving yards than Jerry Rice had after his first seven seasons.
Then there are the intangibles. The Raiders love to talk about their mystique, even if it’s mostly a myth. But Moss fits the team’s image to a tee. He has been labeled such a problem child that the Vikings, tired of the drama that always seems to surround him, thought they had a better chance of winning without him.
“He’s going to be ready,” longtime friend Tim DiPiero said. “Physically and mentally he’s going to be ready to go. He’s pumped up.”
If Moss feels he has something to prove, that’s great news for the Raiders, because when he’s motivated there’s not stopping him.
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