ALAMEDA, Calif. (March 2, 2005) -- Randy Moss feels like a newlywed.
After comparing his rocky seven-year tenure with Minnesota to a long marriage, Moss hit the honeymoon phase with his new team, joining the Oakland Raiders and getting the royal treatment.
"I'm in love right now," Moss said, beaming in his new black No. 18 jersey, his hair in cornrows.
The star receiver arrived at team headquarters in a stretch limousine escorted by seven police officers on motorcycles, all but the lieutenant from the Alameda Police Department's fleet. He'd have been there, but had a prior meeting.
Moss was greeted by fans and the franchise's three Super Bowl trophies.
His four kids all received care packages from the team: Raiders T-shirts, hats and jackets.
The only thing missing was owner Al Davis himself.
"Since Day 1, the only thing that Mr. Al Davis and his organization have shown is straight Class A hospitality, and I can really appreciate that," Moss said. "I'm overwhelmed by it, I really am."
Moss was introduced by the Raiders once his trade from the Vikings was complete. The Raiders were working to restructure his 2005 base salary into a more cap-friendly signing bonus to be prorated over future years.
The Vikings receive linebacker Napoleon Harris, the No. 7 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft and a late-round pick in the swap, which was done a week ago, but couldn't be made official until today.
"I've still got love in Minnesota," Moss said, "but with the Oakland Raiders, I get a new start and a chance to go to the Super Bowl."
As part of that new start, Moss is changing his jersey number from 84 back to 18, the number he wore when he came into the league in 1998. The Vikings, meanwhile, were preparing to move on without their franchise man.
"Randy is a phenomenal player and meant a lot to the community and the Vikings organization," said Vikings owner Red McCombs, who called a news conference for March 3 to discuss the deal. "But, we have decided to go in a different direction at this point. We wish Randy the best in the future."
Moss said he was nervous when introduced, but he was already comfortable with Davis' longtime catch phrases.
"Who wouldn't want to be in the Silver and Black?" Moss asked. "I'm committed to excellence and I just want to win, baby."
Moss, 28, will provide a huge upgrade to an offense determined to return to the high-powered vertical passing game of years past. It was their proficient passing attack that led the Raiders to the Super Bowl after the 2002 season won 48-21 by Tampa Bay.
"I don't see this team slipping with the addition of me. I just see them adding more firepower," Moss said.
Quarterback Kerry Collins couldn't be happier with the acquisition.
"If he's not the best, he's certainly one of the best," Collins said. "You can make a strong argument. Everybody has their own opinions. But ask any quarterback around the league which receiver they'd want, and I think most would say Randy Moss."
Moss spent much of last season limited by a hamstring injury and didn't reach 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his seven-year career. He finished with 49 catches for 767 yards and 13 touchdowns.
"The coaches at Chicago, Green Bay and Detroit are so happy this trade was made and they won't see him two times a year," Raiders coach Norv Turner said. "We're so happy to have him and we'll know how to use him."
Moss joins Jerry Porter in a talented young receiving corps. Porter led the Raiders with 64 catches for 998 yards and nine touchdowns, falling just short of his first 1,000-yard season. His receptions were a career high, and he scored three touchdowns in a game twice.
"We've got to check our egos, and the ball has to be distributed in a way to make everybody happy," said Porter, who re-signed for five years last week.
Several of Moss' new teammates have said they aren't worried about his sometimes controversial antics.
"Hopefully, the people love me and will accept me, and I'm just here to make the best of another opportunity," Moss said.
Moss was fined $10,000 for pretending to pull down his pants and moon the Green Bay crowd during Minnesota's playoff victory and also drew criticism for leaving the field with 2 seconds left in the regular-season finale against Washington.
Other transgressions included bumping a traffic control officer with his car in 2002, verbally abusing corporate sponsors on a team bus in 2001 and squirting an official with a water bottle in 1999, in addition to his infamous "I play when I want to play" comments.
He believes he's been misunderstood at times.
"If there's anything I could say, it's just my passion and desire to win, week in and week out," Moss said. "I mean, I love to win. I love to compete. And when I win, I like to talk trash. And when I lose, I don't like trash to be talked to me. I mean, that's the competitor in me. That's the competitive edge that I have inside of me, that God has given me, and he has given me the talent to go out and showcase."
The Associated Press News Service
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