EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Randy Moss is returning to Minnesota, finally united with Brett Favre in the place where his exceptional ability to catch the football first flourished.
Reviving memories of Moss’s electrifying performances, colorful comments and contrarian behavior, the Super-Bowl-or-bust Vikings made another eye-opening acquisiton — just in time to try to rejuvenate a stagnant offense for a challenging stretch of games.
The New England Patriots traded the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver to Minnesota on Wednesday, giving Moss the exit he expected and sending him back to the team that turned him into a superstar after drafting him in the first round in 1998.
“He can still go downtown and get the football, which is a stand-alone factor,” Vikings coach Brad Childress said. “He could sprain his toe here sometime coming up, and you could say that he’s 33, it’s old age. But there’s always risk-reward. I don’t necessarily see this as boom or bust. I think he’s got some more football in him.”
The Vikings play at New York on Monday night, and Childress said without hesitation Moss would be in uniform against the Jets — in his old purple No. 84.
“Man, we wish this would have happened a week later,” Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson said.
Oh, and check out Minnesota’s last two games in October: at rival Green Bay, and then at New England.
“We’ve just been missing something, and I think he can give us another threat down the field,” running back Adrian Peterson said on the team’s website.
The Vikings didn’t practice on Wednesday. Moss is expected to join the team on Thursday and talk with reporters afterward.
“I know I like waking up 2 good news!” left tackle Bryant McKinnie said on Twitter. He’s one of eight players remaining from Moss’s last team in 2004.
Added Kevin Williams, via the team’s website: “He’s one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever played with and I’m happy to have him back with us.”
The Vikings in exchange will give the Patriots their third-round draft pick in 2011 and get a seventh-rounder from New England in 2012, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity because the teams did not disclose terms of the deal.
The entertaining style Moss brought with him started a string of sellouts at the Metrodome that is still going 13 years later. His jersey can still be seen regularly on the backs of fans, six years after his departure.
On Wednesday at Target Field, as the Twins were facing the Yankees in Game 1 of their playoff series, multiple Moss jerseys were spotted in the crowd. One man across the street from the ballpark before the game even wore a fake Afro along with his, an ode to the time when Moss puffed up his hair before a late-season game.
Moss’s first stint in Minnesota was anything but smooth, with several occasions where he was fined or admonished for his antics or behavior. He found trouble with the law, too, for infamously bumping a traffic cop with his car.
Tired of his attitude and wary of a hamstring injury that hampered him in the 2004 season, the Vikings traded Moss to Oakland in 2005. He wore out his welcome there and the Raiders sent him to New England in 2007. Favre was frustrated at the time the Packers didn’t land Moss; they discussed a trade with Oakland.
Childress, though, denied on Wednesday that Favre lobbied for this move.
“I don’t think any of us thought this guy was going to be available,” Childress said.
Childress said he has a clean slate in Minnesota.
“I’m just satisfied to judge him, not backward, but judge him going forward and what he does with us here,” he said.
Moss will move from catching passes from Tom Brady to Favre, who desperately needed a downfield threat after Pro Bowl receiver Sidney Rice had hip surgery in August. Struggling Bernard Berrian has been a nonfactor, and Percy Harvin — when healthy — is better suited for the slot position.
“This is an exciting move; I think everybody feels that in the locker room,” Favre said on the team’s website. “It’s rare you get to play with a future Hall of Famer and get to appreciate their talents up close. Randy Moss is a great player and his career speaks for itself. I’ve admired him from a distance for a long time, and you can’t help but be impressed by the guy.”
Moss spent his first seven seasons in Minnesota, where he set all kinds of records and became one of the most exciting playmakers in the league. He burned Favre’s Packers often, racking up 9,142 yards and 90 touchdowns during his first stint with Minnesota and fueling a run to the NFC title game following the 1998 and 2000 seasons.
One of his old teammates, Nate Burleson, now with the Detroit Lions, chimed in with his approval.
“I think this is the biggest soap opera you could see on TV for him to go back to where he started,” Burleon said, adding: “As a fan of Minnesota because they drafted me, I like the move — even if he’s in my division. I’m still a fan of him. He was kind of like a big brother.”
AP Sports Writers Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis and Larry Lage in Allen Park, Mich., contributed to this report.