Saturday, May 25, 2019
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McCombs was ready to fire Tice late in season
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Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice joked that he contemplated quitting so he felt he and McCombs were even. (MPR Photo/Brandt Williams)
Minnesota Vikings officials are denying that Randy Moss was traded to the Oakland Raiders because of health concerns or concerns about his attitude. In their first comments since trading Moss, they say the team is looking for a way to put together a team that is as strong on defense as it has been on offense. And team officials say they're optimistic that the trade will make it easier for them to get the players they need to win the Super Bowl.

Eden Prairie, Minn. — Randy Moss has been on the receiving end of some of the longest and most spectacular touchdown passes in Vikings history. As a rookie in 1998, Moss helped the Vikings offense score more points in one season than any other NFL team - ever. Since that year, the Vikings have consistently ranked near the top of the league in offense.

But the Vikings never won the big game. Team owner Red McCombs says that was particularly hard for Moss to handle.

"I began thinking, 'this thing is probably, if we don't make - if we don't really get somewhere this year, Randy is going to be so disappointed when the season's over. We're going to be disappointed.' And I began to think what could I do to make something happen there?" he said.

McCombs says Moss wasn't playing up to his abilities. He says he thought about firing head coach Mike Tice as a way to provide a spark for him. But McCombs reconsidered.

"Because at the end of the day I just felt like there were too many intangibles there that I didn't have any answers for. And I'd be better to go with the people I think could move me up. So I think I got a better chance with Mike and the team than I did with Randy out there on an island all by himself," McCombs said.

I gave serious thought to quitting too.
- Mike Tice

McCombs didn't tell Tice until just before the press conference that he was so close to firing him earlier in the season. When asked how he felt about that, Tice explained that Moss wasn't the only Viking feeling frustrated by losing games.

"I gave serious thought to quitting too. Sometimes I said 'I don't need this...' So, I guess we're even," Tice said.

Tice disagrees with McCombs's assertion that the team didn't use Moss properly. He says the team built its offense around him.

With Moss out of the picture the team will have ample room under the league's salary cap to sign free agents. Yesterday the team signed defensive lineman Patrick Williams. They will also get linebacker Napoleon Harris from Oakland from the trade and they'll have two first-round draft picks. The old saw in football goes "defense wins championships." Tice says, for the most part, the team's front office will work with that in mind.

"We've spent exhaustive hours analyzing our football team and trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together so we can be the New England, next year, so we can be the world champion because that is the ultimate goal in all this is to be the world champion. Not to be the highest paid head coach. Not to be the most explosive offense."

Both McCombs and Tice say they personally like Moss and will miss him. And they deny that the trade had anything to do with Moss's antics, like walking off the field while his team was trying to execute an onside kick with two seconds remaining in a game.

Moss has said he left the field because he was upset over losing to the Washington Redskins, a team with a losing record. Wednesday, in his first press conference as an Oakland Raider, Moss said he's looking forward to being on a team he believes can win it all.

"I'm happy because I get a new start, and a chance to go to the Super Bowl. That's what I'm ready to do. Because all my career I've been preaching, Super Bowl, Super Bowl, I want a championship. I think with Mr. Davis and coach Turner and his staff and the players they have here and with the addition of myself, they're bringing me on a team that was really already in the making of making a playoff and a Super Bowl run," Moss said.

McCombs says he informed prospective Vikings buyer Reggie Fowler that he was trading Moss. McCombs says NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has met with Fowler, and says the commissioner talked with Fowler about his financial status and discrepancies in the bio that was distributed by the PR firm representing him. He says Tagliabue was satisfied with Fowler's explanations.

The NFL's finance committee will meet next week to decide whether to recommend Fowler's bid to other owners.

McCombs says he's confident the owner's will approve of the deal. But if not, McCombs says he'll keep the team until he finds somebody else to buy it.