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Trade Randy Moss? Really, maybe it's time

The Minnesota Vikings made Randy Moss, known in NFL scouting circles as an emotionally volatile, physically fast and wiry receiver from Marshall, their first-round pick when he was selected 21st overall in the 1998 NFL draft.

TV blackouts were commonplace during much of the 1990s prior to Moss's arrival. Outside of home games against the Green Bay Packers -- in which fans wearing green-and-gold often matched those sporting purple -- sellouts; were rare at the Metrodome.

Two events in 1998 changed the face of the Vikings in Minnesota: Red McCombs purchased the Vikings from a dysfunctional ownership by committee, and the Vikings made Moss their No. 1 draft pick.

In a matter of minutes, Vikings games morphed from mere sporting events to must-see rock concerts.

Regardless of their playoff pursuits, the Vikings will not host a home game until next August, when the 2005 exhibition season opens. That practically every seat will be filled the first week of August is a testament to two people: McCombs and Moss.

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"The first thing Red said when he got here in '98 was that he wanted to sell out the preseason," a long-time employee at Winter Park said. "We said, 'Red, we only get 28,000-30,000 fans for preseason games.

"He said, 'Not anymore.' "

The Vikings' 34-31 loss to the Packers on Christmas Eve was the 74th consecutive sell-out. The game that started that streak was Aug. 15, 1998, when 60,995 packed the Metrodome to watch the Vikings shut out the Chiefs 34-0. There hasn't been an unsold seat since.

McCombs can be credited for initiating the momentum that started the sellout streak. Moss is the reason the Vikings sustained it.

The Vikings are 67-51 in regular season and postseason games since they drafted Moss. They are 3-3 in the playoffs; 0-2 in NFC Championships with Moss.

In seven seasons, Moss has proven to be the best receiver in franchise history, and the most annoying. In seven years, we've seen Moss create more imaginative ways to score touchdowns, and find more inventive ways to garner negative publicity.

He has lit up Green Bay's secondary in front of a Monday Night Football audience with a rookie record-setting performance. And he has caused tremors through the locker room and the league for insisting he plays when he wants to play.

He defies odds (and gravity) coming down with the ball when he is triple-teamed. He defies authorities and law officials by getting into altercations with traffic cops, possessing marijuana in the back seat of his car, squirting officials with water bottles, battling with security guards to get his posse of friends onto the field before a game, berating corporate SPONSORS OVER WHO SITS WHERE ON A TEAM BUS.

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Moss's latest well-chronicled antic came Sunday when he left FedEx Field with 2 seconds left. While 11 of his teammates were on the field about to attempt a desperate on-side kick attempt against the Redskins, and the rest of his teammates were huddled together along the sidelines wondering how they could lose to Washington, Moss headed for the locker room.

His action spoke louder than any words, portraying a blame-them, not-me attitude. His premature departure warranted nothing more than a lengthy conversation with his head coach. I wonder if the same rules would have applied had tackle Adam Goldberg or cornerback Terrance Shaw left early?

Mike Tice isn't alone when he enables Moss's behavior. While his effort is commendable -- trying to steer one of the NFL's great problem children down the right path -- he has failed.

The marriage between the Vikings and Moss must end.

Moss still would command a handful of draft picks in a trade. He most certainly still possesses enough value for some team to mix a couple of veteran defensive players with a couple of high draft picks, which the Vikings would always covet.

The Vikings already have a bona fide team leader. His name is Daunte Culpepper. Build the offense around him, retool the defense with a couple of more veterans and more wise draft picks like Kevin Williams and Kenechi Udeze, and rid the organization of its biggest headache.

Analysis of the past seven seasons leads to just one conclusion: Randy must go.

Troy Young is a sports writer for the Post-Bulletin. He can be reached at tyoung@postbulletin.com

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