I know I'm supposed to hate Randy Moss. He seems to go against all the things we're supposed to value in athletes. He takes plays off, he smokes marijuana "every blue moon", and he supposedly quits on teams.
I don't condone any of that, but I love the guy. I'm not about to recommend him as a role model for my younger siblings or cousins, but I appreciate his honesty and his refusal to make nice for the media.
A few notes on Moss:
1. According to this Patriots Dailyarticle, Moss's "I play when I want to play" sound bite was taken completely out of context. Having discovered the context of the quote, I think I understand his meaning better. The quote came in response to how external factors might affect his motivation for a game. Reporters are always asking about whether an opponent or a teammate or a setting provides for extra motivation, but athletes are taught to ignore all that. The motivation is supposed to come from within. Moss didn't say something canned about how he always goes hard. He just went straight to the point and gave an honest answer: "I play when I want to play."
2. Moss hasn't forgotten where he came from, which is why you hear him saying "Rand University" when he introduces himself during football games. Before I knew better, I thought it was a reference to his name. In fact, it's a reference to his neighborhood in West Virginia, the place people never thought he would escape, as this Boston Globe article points out. So when he's announcing himself as a Rand University graduated, he's essentially saying that he made it where other people thought he couldn't. Except again, Moss doesn't elaborate. He just says where he's from and lets you fill in the rest. But few people ever do.
3. Most professional athletes show the public their best side while hiding bad behavior, with Tiger Woods serving as a famous example but certainly not the only one. Moss lets people see his worst side and then keeps quiet his better impulses such as his charity work. John Wooden once said: "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." Many take the opposite tact. Moss doesn't appear to care what people think about him. Does he have admirable character? I'm not sure, and I'm not excusing Moss's shortcomings, but I think there's more to him than meets the eye.
4. Plus, I'm a Patriots fan and, by extension, a Tom Brady fan. Brady's records wouldn't have happened without Moss. That's just a fact.