When Randy Moss first came to Minnesota 12 years ago, he electrified a stagnant franchise and immediately turned it into a Super Bowl contender.
Now the Vikings need him to do it again.
The New England Patriots traded the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Wednesday, sending him back to the place where he became an NFL superstar in exchange for a 2011 draft pick.
"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 that Moss would be in uniform against the Jets — his old purple No. 84.
"Man, we wish this would have happened a week later,"' Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson said.
The drama is sure to 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."
Moss was a first-round pick of the Vikings in 1998 and 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 — also giving the Vikings more than a few headaches over those years with attitude problems and some off-the-field trouble.
Moss will move from catching passes from Tom Brady to Brett Favre, who desperately needed a downfield threat after Pro Bowl receiver Sidney Rice had hip surgery in August. Struggling Bernard Berrian has been a non-factor, 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."
Tired of his behaviour 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, too, and the Raiders sent him to New England in 2007. Favre, then with the Packers, was frustrated at the time that his team didn't land Moss after talking with Oakland about a trade.
Childress, though, denied on Wednesday that Favre lobbied for the 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.