Randy Moss was drafted by the Vikings in 1998. Despite being one of the most physically gifted players of all time, he lasted until the 21st pick (behind guys like Kevin Dyson and Terry Fair) because he was such a raging douchebag. This has been well-documented, as has his “coming out party” when he played the Packers on Monday night football and went off for 190 yards and 2 scores.
What isn’t as well documented is how Randy Moss, the guy whose attitude was a big reason why he never won a Super Bowl, helped the Packers win the title in 2010. It wasn’t like he did anything directly, but without him, odds become much lower that the Packers bring home the XLV Lombardi.
You see, after Moss lit up the Packers for 13 catches, 343 yards, and 3 touchdowns in two games against them in his rookie season, Ron Wolf realized he had to do something about his secondary. The next year, in the 1999 draft, Wolf chose defensive backs with his first three picks. After taking Antuan Edwards in the first round, he took Fred Vinson in the second and Mike McKenzie in the third.
Edwards played a little, had some injuries, and bounced around the league. Vinson and McKenzie, however, were critical to the Packers Super Bowl Run. Neither of them were on the team, but without them, it is highly improbable that they win (especially considering how highly improbable that run was even with their help).
Mike McKenzie was one of my favorite players. He looked and played like the Predator – he was a shutdown corner from day one. For some reason, though, he became a d-bag in his own right, sat out the offseason workouts in 2014 and eventually forced a trade to the New Orleans Saints (the Saints waived him on January 2nd, 2010, a mere 36 days before they won their only Super Bowl over the Colts – Cue Nelson Muntz) for a second round pick in the 2005 draft
In 2005, new GM Ted Thompson was making the first picks of his career with the Packers. I forget who he drafted in the first round, but the guy he drafted in the second round with the pick from the Saints was Nick Collins. That’s right, Pick Six Nick, who made possibly the biggest play in Super Bowl XLV when he snagged a Howard Green-deflected pass from rapist Ben Roethlisberger and took it to the house!
That’s how Mike McKenzie helped the Packers, Fred Vinson had a less direct, but just as important, impact.
Fred Vinson didn’t impress anyone during his rookie year in Green Bay, he certainly didn’t shut down Randy Moss (who had 3 of his 11 touchdowns in 1999 in his two games against the Packers). After a year on the team, they traded him to Seattle, where he tore his ACL playing pickup basketball and never played an NFL down again.
For that monumentous contribution, all Seattle had to give up was Ahman Green. Green had a speed-power combination that may have only been bested by Bo Jackson and went on to become the all-time leading rusher in the history of the storied franchise. But he was, sadly, never on a Super Bowl team. He was not re-signed by Green Bay after the 2006 season and joined the Texans in 2007.
That signing brought the Packers a 4th round compensatory selection in 2008, which the Packers used on a tackle to play guard, another of my all-time favorite Packers: the pride of UCF himself, Josh Sitton.
Sitton dominated the trenches from his first game and started in Super Bowl XLV, battling a Pittsburgh defense that was ranked number 1 in the league that year. His effort there gave Aaron Rodgers enough protection to throw for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns without a pick and opened enough holes for James Starks to rattle off 4.7 yards per carry.
His impact was not as flashy as that of Nick Collins, but it was every bit as critical.
But that’s not all the impact that Randy Moss had on the Packers.
After 2006, a season in which the second leading receiver on the team had just over 600 yards and Ruvell Martin was WR3, the Packers knew they needed more weapons on the perimeter. So in the 2007 draft, Ted Thompson engineered a deal for Randy Moss, in one of those moves you don’t hear much about. Moss, however, wouldn’t agree to a contract of longer than one year, so the deal fell through and he was traded to the Patriots.
Since the Packers missed out on a talented receiver, they made it a priority the following year in the 2008 draft and, with their first selection, chose Jordy effin’ Nelson! I would sooooo much rather have him than Randy Moss. Aside from being ultra-productive, he is a total class act, the complete opposite of Randy Moss off the field.
When Jordy got to the Super Bowl, he had 9 catches for 140 yards (unlike that jerkoff Moss who only got 5 catches – on 12 targets – for 62 yards in his sole big game opportunity). Jordy was the primary offensive weapon for the Packers in XLV and an absolutely necessary component of the victory.
In that way, Randy Moss led to Nick Collins, Josh Sitton, and Jordy Nelson – three Pro Bowl players who each played an immense role in helping the Packers win a Super Bowl.
Is it in a slightly convoluted way?
Sure, but that’s the point. There is no direct way. Football is game of millimeters and butterfly effects have echoes that are heard decades later. It’s an incredibly difficult game to win and the difference between a blowout victory and a miraculous come from behind win is Julian Edelman coming down with that deflection 1% of the time.
Trades, free agents, comp picks, the moves that are made, and the moves that aren’t are all related, they all contribute to what your team becomes. It’s hard to grade each individual move in a vacuum because that move will never have an impact in a vacuum, it will be a part of the program that is established over the course of years, a part of a team with 53 players working in concert.
Profession football is a long game, not a short one. Building a program is not fantasy football and the salary cap is just the beginning. You want to keep your options open and seek value at every point.
Who ever thought trading an unimpressive rookie for a fumbling machine would get a legend that would leave to garner a comp pick that would become a Pro Bowl guard that set the wall in the Super Bowl? Who knew that when a prima donna wouldn’t sign a two-year deal that it would lead to filling that void with a far better option? How could anyone tell that reluctantly trading a disgruntled CB1 would lead to drafting another DB that would have a Super Bowl pick six?
Running an NFL team is hard and the moves cannot be judged quickly (which is why it’s great to not have an impatient owner). Letting Casey Hayward walk or losing TJ Lang may not feel great in the short term, but the success and results of the long term are what really matters.