Home again: Moss thrilled about second stint with Vikings

To hear Randy Moss tell it, this week's blockbuster trade that moved him from New England to Minnesota didn't just bring him back to the place where he started his NFL career.

It wasn't simply about him returning to a team that traded him five years ago.

More important than anything for Moss, and thus for the Vikings, is that the wide receiver feels like he's home.

"I'm very fortunate to be back home where it all started," said Moss, a West Virginia native who referred to Minnesota as home seven times Thursday. "It's been a hectic last 48 hours. I didn't really know what to expect. I'm back home."

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Wearing that familiar purple No. 84 on his back, Moss practiced with the Vikings one day after he was acquired from the Patriots in a trade that his new team hopes will put them right back in the Super Bowl conversation.

"To all the Vikings fans that are coming to the Metrodome, pull your 84 jerseys out, man," Moss said. "I think this is going to be a fun ride."

With Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf watching from the sideline, Moss caught passes from quarterback Brett Favre and talked to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell as he prepares for Monday night's road game against the New York Jets.

"Who woulda ever thunk it?" Favre asked.

League sources told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that the Vikings have agreed to a clause that they won't use their franchise tag on Moss next offseason, and the receiver wouldn't have reported to Minnesota without that assurance. However, Moss' contract hasn't been financially altered in any way.

Moss is in the final year of a three-year, $27 million deal that he signed with the New England Patriots. He is due roughly $5 million for the remainder of the season.

Moss spent his first seven seasons in Minnesota, emerging as the best deep threat in the NFL for one of the most potent offenses ever assembled. He was traded to the Oakland Raiders in 2005 and spent the last three seasons with the Patriots before being dealt back to the Vikings on Wednesday.

"The people that I meet on the regular outside the state of Minnesota, all they know is me being in the purple 84," Moss said, adding later: "I still have a lot of love for the Minnesota Vikings, man. Just luckily I did get traded here. For what reasons, I still don't know to this day. But I am back."

No matter where he has played -- in college, with the Vikings after he slid down the draft board in 1998 or in New England after many believes he was washed up -- Moss has always played his best with a chip on his shoulder.

That's what the Vikings are hoping to see again.

"I think there's always that," coach Brad Childress said after the trade was announced. "The great thing about this business is you have to do it every week. For anybody that is saying anything bad about Randy Moss, he gets a chance to show them wrong. That's never a bad motivator."

Moss became a star in college, when he ended up at Marshall after off-the-field issues caused Notre Dame to rescind a scholarship offer. He had two brilliant seasons with the Thundering Herd, but he fell to the Vikings at No. 21 in the 1998 draft because of concerns about his character.

Moss unleashed all that pent-up frustration in his first season, scoring 17 touchdowns and averaging more than 19 yards per catch to help the Vikings reach the NFC title game. In his seven seasons with the team, Moss caught 574 passes for 9,142 yards and 90 touchdowns.

But the Vikings eventually grew tired of Moss's occasionally petulant behavior and shipped him to the Raiders in 2005. A few nagging injuries and Oakland's struggles on the field combined to make his two years there largely unproductive.

"I still feel obligated to make this thing happen because when nobody wanted to give me a chance, the Minnesota Vikings did give me a chance," Moss said.

Moss brushed aside one question about his controversial past in Minnesota, then took a playful jab at the Vikings' infamous "Love Boat" scandal in 2005, the year after he was traded to the Raiders.

"Yeah, I did have a few mix-ups here, but who didn't?" he asked. "What if I'd have been on that boat? There really would have been some problems."

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Moss said he was "very depressed" when he was traded from Minnesota. "Me going to Oakland and not winning games put me in a deeper depression," he said.

Moss' first year in New England ranks among the best from any receiver in NFL history, with 98 catches for 1,493 yards and a league-record 23 touchdowns to help the Patriots reach the Super Bowl. He caught 50 touchdowns in 52 games with New England.

Moss made no secret of his desire for a new deal this year. He complained about not feeling wanted in New England and said he expected this season to be his last with the Patriots.

"I don't want to get into contract. That's how the whole thing started," Moss said, perhaps referring to his lengthy rant following the Patriots' Week 1 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. "Some things in New England didn't go to plan, and I'm here now. I don't really want to get into the contract thing.

"I think everything will work itself out. If I'm going to be here next year as a Viking, then that's what it's going to be. If I'm not, then I'm not. For right now, I have a job to do and I'll just keep playing football. So let's just leave it at that."

After going without a catch Monday night against the Miami Dolphins, Moss was traded to the Vikings, who play at New England on Oct. 31.

"Did I want to get traded out of New England? I don't know what the answer is," Moss said. "All I can say is there's no other place I'd rather get traded to besides Minnesota."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick strongly denied reports of a rift between Moss and the organization.

"There was never any incident or discipline problem with Randy," Belichick said. "There never has been one with me in four years. And it certainly wasn't about contract and money."

Moss reiterated a similar level of repsect for Belichick and the Patriots.

"Now when I'm gone, I'm not going to say anything negative," Moss said. "I'm not going to bash the organization because they gave me an opprtunity to play when nobody else thought I could play at a high level."

Now the Vikings hope Moss can find enough motivation to return to his dominant form and revive a stagnant passing offense.

Favre has long hoped to play with Moss, and now he has the deep threat he has missed since Sidney Rice had hip surgery in August.

"Randy comes in, we're just going to throw it up and there's 11 guys on him and you just throw it up to him. There may be times when that's the case," Favre said with a giddy smile before catching himself. "I was just joking. Ten guys, maybe."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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