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He's back: Vikings get Moss from Patriots in trade

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Brett Favre finally got his wish. He will be playing with Randy Moss and the Vikings couldn't be happier about it.

The Super-Bowl-or-bust Vikings got Moss from New England on Wednesday for a 2011 draft pick, another eye-opening acquisition that comes just in time to rejuvenate a stagnant offense for a challenging stretch of games.

The Patriots gave the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver the exit he expected and sent him back to the team that turned him into a superstar after drafting him in the first round in 1998.

There are still plenty of fond memories around here of Moss's electrifying performances, along with his colorful comments and contrarian behavior.

"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.

The drama will be high around here all month. Check out Minnesota's last two games in October: at rival Green Bay, and then at New England.

"In this business, there are complex and often difficult decisions, but it is my responsibility to make them based on what I feel is best for our football team, in both the short term and long term," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "I am grateful for the opportunity to have coached Randy Moss and aside from facing him as an opponent, I wish him the very best for the remainder of his Hall of Fame career."

The Vikings didn't practice on Wednesday. Moss is expected to join the team on Thursday and talk with reporters afterward.

He 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 NFC title game appearances following the 1998 and 2000 seasons.

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. The coach said owner Zygi Wilf gave his blessing on Monday.

"I don't think any of us thought this guy was going to be available," Childress said.

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 of football that 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.

His first stint in Minnesota was anything but smooth, though.

There was the time he bumped a traffic cop with his car in downtown Minneapolis, left the field early from a game in Washington and several other occasions where he was fined or admonished for his antics or behavior.

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.

Childress insisted the acquisition of Moss isn't a sign that Rice's recovery has slowed. Rice said recently he hopes to be off his crutches next week.

The Vikings began the year with championship aspirations after reaching the NFC title game in January. But they have lost two of their first three and Favre's passing game has struggled to get off the ground. The Vikings talked last month about acquiring another disgruntled, talented wide receiver in Vincent Jackson, but the San Diego Chargers chose to keep him.

"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.

Moss is in the final season of a three-year, $27 million contract and has said several times that he expected 2010 to be his last season with the Patriots. He did not have a catch in a 41-14 win over Miami on Monday night, for the first time since 2006.

Last month, Moss lamented his lack of a contract extension and said he felt unwanted. He backtracked a bit days later, saying he didn't want Patriots fans, players, coaches or officials to have "a sour taste in their mouths" about him.

His agent, Joel Segal, said the Vikings have not contacted him about a long-term deal, so Moss joins a long list of prominent Vikings in the final year of their contracts including Rice and Favre.