Football is a business. We've heard countless professional players say so.
It's no surprise, then, that the few Patriots who spoke to reporters today took a business-like tack when answering questions about the trade of their former teammate, future Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, to the franchise that originally drafted him in 1998, the Minnesota Vikings.
"There's no real gut reaction," All-Pro wideout Wes Welkerflatly told reporters. "Obviously, Randy's a great player and a great talent, but Coach [Bill Belichick] is going to do what's best for the team … We fully support that. I absolutely support Coach Belichick and whatever decisions he makes. Right or wrong, good or indifferent, he always has the team's best interests at heart. You've got to respect that.
"Not knowing that [Moss] wanted to get traded the whole time was a little disappointing, but, at the same time, he's doing what's best for him. It's a business and you just have to roll with it."
"It's a business. That's how you have to look at it," said one of Moss' best friends on the Patriots, nose tackle Vince Wilfork. "I was very fortunate to play with a guy like Randy and have a chance to know him as a person, not just as a teammate. Great person, great athlete. We have to keep rolling. One thing's for sure – we're friends forever."
"He's a good dude, great player, great person," safety Patrick Chungoffered. "Other than that, I'm not talking about the trade."
Earlier in the day, New England's head coach held a brief, previously unscheduled press conference dedicated entirely to Moss-related questions, in an effort to shed a little more light on his reasons for dealing one of the most talented skill position players the game has ever known.
"Randy was really a pleasure to coach," Belichick stated. "I enjoyed having him on our team. He made a lot of contributions to this football team. When I spoke with Randy yesterday morning, our conversations were consistent with what they've been over the last four years: honest, open, very forthright. We talked about a lot of things, which I will keep between Randy and myself.
"In the end, it was a difficult decision, but one that I feel is in the best interest of the football team. Organizationally, we've had conversations and obviously are comfortable with the trade. I wish Randy the absolute best."
Moss was equally generous about the Patriots and Belichick in his first remarks as a second-time Viking. Following his first practice with his new Minnesota teammates Thursday afternoon, Moss took questions from reporters for about 15 minutes in a press conference that was broadcast and streamed live on the Internet and various television networks.
"Whatever me and Bill talked about, I want to keep between the two of us. I wish him the best," Moss said. "I know we go there in a few weeks. I look forward to facing those guys on the 31st of October. Man, I still got love for them, I really do. It's just something I'll never forget. We did some magical things up there."
Wilfork added that he was disappointed, from a personal standpoint, that Moss is no longer a Patriot, but that he and the rest of his teammates must focus on the future – in this case, the Baltimore Ravens, their next opponent following this bye weekend.
"Last time we faced those guys, they put a hurtin' on us real bad. We're looking forward to the bye week, but also putting some work in. That's where our focus is."
Thu10/7 Practice Notebook
For news and notes from Thursday's practice, please visit the PFW Blog.