FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Randy Moss got support Monday from teammates after he said just minutes after the New England Patriots season-opening win that he didn’t feel appreciated.
“Randy stated the way he felt,” running back Fred Taylor said. “You can’t question a man’s integrity when it’s from his heart.”
In a 16-minute postgame news conference, Moss reiterated that he doesn’t expect to return to the Patriots next season. He is in the final year of a three-year, $27 million contract and said there have been no talks toward a new one.
He said he wasn’t mad or hurt and would be willing to consider a new contract with the team during the season. But, still a dangerous deep threat in his 13th NFL season, Moss said it would be “a smack in my face” to wait until the season is over to reach a contract agreement.
The timing of his remarks, on the heels of a 38-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, may not have been ideal, but Taylor didn’t complain.
“I’m not questioning anything. I do understand the business side of it all,” he said. “It didn’t seem like it was, ‘all right, this is the timing. I’ve got to do this or anything like that.’ It was just how he was feeling at the moment.”
Taylor, in his 13th NFL season, and running back Sammy Morris said Moss’ comments wouldn’t be a distraction as the Patriots prepare for Sunday’s game at the New York Jets.
“Contracts are part of the game,” said Morris, an 11-year veteran. “I haven’t heard what he said yet. I’m not really dying to go figure it out either. It’s part of the game. We’ve got a pretty veteran team and we understand that’s part of it.”
Moss said last February for the first time that “the Patriots don’t really pay” so he expected them not to re-sign him for 2011.
Players repeatedly have lauded him as an excellent teammate.
“Personally, I appreciate him,” second-year cornerback Darius Butler said. “He’s one of the best teammates I’ve got.”
An 81-second video posted on the Patriots’ website showed Moss calling players together in the locker room after Sunday’s win.
“Hey, everybody in here, coaches included” he shouted. “That’s good when we all do it on the same rhythm. One clap. One clap. One clap. Sound good.”
After each “one clap” players slapped their own hands together a single time.
A few minutes later, Moss stood at a podium, speaking calmly as he vented his concerns to reporters.
Moss and coach Bill Belichick met Monday, according to the Boston Herald. But Belichick wouldn’t confirm that they spoke.
“I keep the conversations that I have between the players and myself private,” he said. “I think that’s the way they should stay.”
Against the Bengals, Moss had five catches for 59 yards. After being traded from Oakland in 2007, Moss has had three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He caught 23 touchdowns passes in 2007 when New England went 18-0 before losing the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
His extended comments Sunday were unusual for a player who politely declines nearly all interview requests.
“You guys must have loved it,” a smiling Belichick told reporters.
Moss had said he wanted to discuss his feelings so they wouldn’t become an issue later in the season. He also said his concerns about his future wouldn’t affect how he plays.
“I feel the same way as I have felt about Randy for the last three years,” Belichick said. “He’s a good football player. I’m glad he’s on our team. I think he adds a lot to our football team. He’s got good energy. Everybody likes him. He’s fun to have on the team and he’s a good player.”
Patriots left tackle Matt Light, in his 10th season, also is in the final year of his contract but hasn’t publicly discussed it.
“I think each guy’s different,” he said. “Some guys, one thing’s important to them. For others, it’s completely different. For me, I’m pretty happy. I’ve got no complaints.”
The often playful Light even got in a plug for Tuesday’s fundraiser, “The Matt Light Celebrity Shoot-Out,” in which participants take target practice with shotguns.
“If you’re frustrated, just come to the shootout tomorrow,” he said with a smile. “We can blow things up.”
Will Moss be there?
“I believe so,” Light said. “We won’t give him a gun, though.”