Sunday's matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots won't be the first time that Randy Moss faces his former teammates in Foxborough.
Moss returned to New England just weeks after the Patriots cut him, during his brief, catering-challenged time with Minnesota Vikings. This time feels different, though.
After a year away from football, Moss has played the role of mentor for a Super Bowl contending team in San Francisco. Moss hasn't been too productive, but he has five catches for 60 yards in the last two weeks combined. (Yes, that's an uptick.)
Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who banished Moss in exchange for a third-round draft pick just as he was becoming a problem, was all compliments Wednesday, just like Tom Brady was about the 49ers' defense earlier in the day.
"I think Randy looks like Randy," Belichick said, via Comcast SportsNet BayArea. "He's the greatest deep-ball receiver that's ever played. Nobody runs better patterns or has a better feel for the deep part of the field like Randy Moss does. ...
"He's an explosive, dynamic player, and probably the smartest receiver I've ever coached. I know he absolutely knows what he's doing and knows what the defense is doing."
I can't speak to if Moss is the greatest deep ball receiver ever, but he's certainly the best I've ever seen. Only Dick LeBeau has been in the NFL longer than Belichick, who might be the game's foremost historian. Belichick doesn't throw around words just to puff up an an opponent.
The larger question is if Moss has any big deep balls left in his career.
Moss got deep for a long potential touchdown last week against the Miami Dolphins, but he couldn't haul in an accurate pass. New England has had trouble with the big play this year. The Foxborough faithful probably will give Moss a warm ovation Sunday night, but you know there's nothing the future Hall of Famer would love more than to prove Belichick's words right.