Well, this is exactly what we were afraid of when they signed him.
Some would say, true to form--Randy Moss is embroiled in a public controversy with someone he terms a "long-term acquaintance" just five days before the AFC Championship Game is set to be played in Foxboro. This could not have come, for the team and for Moss, at a worse time.
So. She said:
On Monday, Rachelle Washington secured a temporary restraining order against the wide receiver in Broward County Circuit Court (a copy of Washington's TRO petition can be found below). Washington, 35, alleges that she was battered by Moss in her Fort Lauderdale home on Sunday, January 6 (the Patriots did not play that weekend due to the team's opening round bye in the NFL playoffs). Washington contends that she has had an "intimate relationship" with the 30-year-old athlete since 1997. In the "lethality assessment" section of a court form, she checked off boxes indicating that Moss has guns and a "drug or alcohol problem." The restraining order case, which is classified as a "dating violence" matter in court records, is scheduled for a January 28 court hearing. Until then, the TRO bars Moss from coming within 500 feet of Washington, her home, and her auto.
Moss, a resident of Orlando, Florida, said he was asked for a financial settlement from the woman over an incident he termed was an ‘accident' between the two . The woman, in an affidavit filed in Broward County, claims Moss asked her not to seek medical attention.
A restraining order was issued over the woman's claims of "dating violence." There were no further details provided of exactly what happened between the two, or when or where the alleged incident happened.
"Over an accident, six figures," Moss said when asked how much Washington was seeking in damages. "All I know is that it's a friend of mine, a young lady, it was an accident where she hurt herself, to where they called me, called my attorneys, trying to get X amount of dollars out of me, and if ‘we don't get X amount of dollars' they were going to go to the press before this game."
Somewhere out there, in between these stories, is the truth. The problem, as a mass audience dealing with a celebrity via the press, is that we can't know it. Nobody but Moss and Washington know what really happened.
This kind of thing is very hard for me to deal with as a female sports fan, and one who at least considers herself a modern woman, if not a radical feminist. I know that in many if not most cases, abused women are not believed, whether their abuser works a blue-collar job or is a multimillionaire athlete. I also know that when the abuser is a multimillionaire athlete, the chances of anyone believing her story--let alone anyone doing anything about it--are basically nil, no matter what the truth is.
But let's not forget the other part--the sports fan. The rabid, total-homer Patriots fan who wants nothing more, regardless of gender, than for this to go away. For Moss's teammates not to be distracted before the biggest game yet this year. For the team and the joy they've brought us this year to be unclouded.
To be honest, both sides of this story have huge holes. If they've had an "intimate relationship" since 1997, why is this only happening now? If she was assaulted Jan. 6, why did she wait until Jan. 14 to file a restraining order? Why did she file a restraining order when Randy Moss was already nowhere near her? Why has she not been more forthcoming about what the battery was and what her injuries were? If, as her restraining order claims, she fears retaliation from Moss for seeking medical treatment for her injuries (when for at least the last weekend he hasn't even been in the same state), why bring a restraining order and court case against him? Something tells me exposing him publicly like this carries a far higher risk of retaliation.
But when I read Moss's statements on the matter, my heart sank. First, he places himself at the scene of the crime, so to speak, by not denying that an incident, and, by extension, injuries of some kind did occur, instead calling it an "accident." He also attempts to deflect the scrutiny to his accuser by alleging she's trying to extort money from him, and by pointing out the timing of events. But he does not deny that an incident occurred, or that she was hurt. That is deeply troubling, to say the least.
Moss obviously has every reason in the world to keep his nose clean this year. As he put it in what was perhaps his most sincere statement about the case, "Everything I tried to do from getting here early and making sure I eat the right food all the way to practicing and playing good. I wanted all of it to be A-plus."
But let's go back to his college days, when not once but several times he had the whole world on a plate if he just kept his nose clean. He first signed a letter of intent to play at Notre Dame, where according to Wikipedia, "former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz, [said] Moss was 'the greatest high school athlete I had ever seen — a bigger Deion Sanders'." But before he could get out of high school, he took part in what Wikipedia describes as a "racially charged fight" that left someone hospitalized; Moss was sent to jail for battery (!) and was cut by Notre Dame, but they gave him a referral to Florida State.
Moss took that second chance and trashed it too, by flunking a drug test while on probation. Florida State went away, too. That's how Moss ended up at Marshall, where he eventually did play football well, but not without stirring up controversy there, too, when he was quoted in Sports Illustrated "saying the 1970 Marshall plane crash 'was a tragedy, but it really wasn't nothing big.' Moss claimed that the quote was taken out of context."
As the national football audience well knows, Moss's tendency to get into trouble followed him to the pros. As a member of the Vikings in 2002, Moss was busted again for drugs. And there was the "walking off the field" incident. And the mooning incident (though I saw the humor in that one, I must confess). And so on.
I bring up that history because when we consider Randy Moss's role in this new situation, his history suggests strongly that all the incentives in the world to keep himself on the straight and narrow--even temporarily--have failed in the past. His history, fair or not, also casts aspersions on his character and makes his side of this story that much less credible.
People thought that his miserable stint with the Raiders and being traded for a draft pick was rock bottom for Randy Moss, but I think if left to his own devices, he could very well find another level. I am afraid, as a Patriots fan, that he has. He doesn't have any more second chances left, certainly not with a coach like Bill Belichick, no matter how many touchdown passes he caught this year.
In the end, it's another sad chapter in a chequered career that might have been orders of magnitude more accomplished, had Moss allowed his obvious talent to come through rather than his off-field antics. But yet, here we are again. It's hard not to believe in a moment like this that this might just be his MO. And as fans, it's moments like this we have to consider how far we or our team are willing to tolerate this kind of thing from a player, whatever he does between the lines.