ENGLEWOOD — Randy Moss is in love.
The object of his affection? The Oakland Raiders.
The talented but troublesome wide receiver can’t wait to wear No. 18 for the silver and black. Moss feels the organization will understand his troubled soul a little more than the Minnesota Vikings did.
They’ll be more tolerant of his antics (like pretending to moon the Green Bay crowd in the playoffs) and sideline shenanigans (such as walking off the field before the game was complete against Washington).
Raider Nation loves colorful characters, and Moss definitely qualifies.
“I’m happy to be here,” Moss said at his March 3rd press conference in Oakland. “I’ve still got love in Minnesota, but with the Oakland Raiders, I get a new start and a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
“I’m committed to excellence and I just want to win, baby.”
Most AFC West cornerbacks would be shaking in their Nikes with the signing of Moss. After all, he’s made it a habit of burning cornerbacks worse than a defective toaster.
But Denver cornerback Champ Bailey won’t be hiding under the covers anytime soon. He’s looking forward to the challenge of stopping a receiver who’s had six seasons of 1,000 or more yards since entering the league in 1998.
“I love to play the best every week,” Bailey said of Moss, who has 90 career touchdowns. “To have him twice a year, that’s big.”
Bailey has never covered Moss. In fact, he’s never even met him. Well, outside of a brief conversation once, but that’s it.
Even though Bailey and Moss are perennial Pro Bowlers, both have been to five, they didn’t travel in the same circles in Hawaii. That is, when Moss showed up. Moss made a habit of skipping Pro Bowls, although he was named the MVP of the 2000 game after a nine-catch, 212-yard afternoon.
“He stopped coming for some reason,” Bailey said.
The signing of Moss will make fellow wideout Jerry Porter that much more difficult to cover, as if he wasn’t before. Porter torched Denver in a 25-24 win on Nov. 28 when he had six catches for 135 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think people are going to sleep on him,” Bailey said. “We won’t; we know what he’s capable of. He makes that offense even more dangerous. (Raiders coach) Norv Turner loves to throw the ball up so that’s going to help them.”
That also makes Bailey lick his lips. The more times the ball goes up in the air, the better his chances for a pick. Bailey had three interceptions last season. With a revamped defensive line, which should apply more heat, Bailey feels more interceptions should be forthcoming.
“Everything we’ve done (this offseason) is better for us,” Bailey said.
The only negative was losing fellow cornerback Kelly Herndon, who signed an offer sheet with Seattle that Denver didn’t match.
“You hate to lose a guy like Kelly,” Bailey said. “He’s a guy who’ll give you 100 percent every play. But you’ve got to move on; that’s the way this league is.”
Plus, the Broncos expect a healthy Lenny Walls to earn the starting job. Walls missed time with an ankle injury and then a separated shoulder.
“Lenny’s going to have a good season,” Bailey predicted.
That’s a requirement. After Walls, it’s slim pickings in the secondary. The Broncos do have Roc Alexander, who was torched in the playoff game against Indianapolis by Reggie Wayne, and Jeff Shoate. It may be an area addressed during the 2005 NFL draft on April 23-24, especially with Moss entering the division.
Not that there’s any doubt who Bailey will cover when Denver plays Oakland. He’s never really seen Moss play, other than on ESPN highlights.
“But he’ll get a lot of my attention this year,” Bailey said.