A Second Chance

The thing we love most about sports is second chances.

Let’s face it, life doesn’t allow us second chances all the time. Sometimes, you never get a second chance to take back what you said, what you did, or what you didn’t say or didn’t do. You may never get a second chance to say goodbye. You may never get a second chance with your career. You never get a second chance with the four years that fly by you in high school, or the four (or five for me) years in college. We just don’t get second chances like athletes and teams get.

Sports are all about second chances.

Michael Vick and Tiger Woods both got second chances. Teams get second chances with rematches. When a player gets traded to a new team, a lot of times people look at that as a second chance to make a first impression. We like to watch because we like to see people get second chances. That’s one of the reason the TV show Undercover Boss is so popular. I think?

Randy Moss being picked up off waivers by the Tennessee Titans last week, is a move all about second chances.

You may be thinking, “Wait, Randy Moss has had second and third chances before. He’s been with the Raiders, Patriots, and Vikings (again), since initially being with the Vikings at the start of his career.” I’m not here to dispute that. In fact, I’m not here to claim this is a second chance for Randy Moss. It’s far from it.

This is a second chance for the Tennessee Titans.

Many of you may be wondering why a team that is 13-5 in their last 18 games would need a second chance, but I’m not talking about a second chance for something recently. The Titans need a second chance from one of the biggest off season blunders they’ve made in their franchise’s history.

Let’s rewind to 1998.

Bill Clinton is in office. We are introduced to Monica Lewinsky. Some company named Google starts up. Jesse Ventura becomes governor of Minnesota. We learn what REALLY happens at high school parties in Can’t Hardly Wait. We learn what REALLY happens in high school relationships from a brand new show, Dawson’s Creek. Britney Spears wants us to hit her one more time. We meet Joe Black. We said goodbye to Seinfeld. Aerosmith informs us that they could stay awake just to hear us breathing.

Let’s rewind to April 18th, 1998, to be exact.

Day 1 of the 1998 NFL Draft. After finishing 8-8 for the second straight year, the Tennessee Oilers had the 16th overall pick. The Oilers were looking to boost their receiving corp. So sixteen picks into the draft the Oilers took the first wide receiver in the draft. Out of the University of Utah, Kevin Dyson.

At the time it seemed to be a pretty solid pick.

However, five picks later, the second wide receiver was drafted. Out of Marshall University, Randy Moss.

Let’s fast forward to the 1998 season.

In their last year as the Oilers, Tennessee went 8-8 again. Their number one draft pick played in 13 of those games and garnered 263 yards and 2 touchdowns. Not bad from an NFL rookie.

However, Oilers fans would cringe when they would see the highlights from up north in Minnesota. That Randy Moss guy that the Oilers passed up on was busy putting up 1313 yards and 17 touchdowns.

It’s tough to argue that the Oilers/Titans were worse without Randy Moss at the beginning of his career as a year later the Titans, in their brand new stadium, went 13-3 and losing in the Super Bowl on the final play of the game. Although, at the same time, the question has to be asked, “Would they have been better with a young Randy Moss on their team?”

In year 2, Kevin Dyson improved to 658 yards and 4 touchdowns. His two year totals still don’t add up to Moss’s rookie season. In year 2 in Minnesota for Moss, he put up 1413 yards and 11 touchdowns. It’s hard to say what the fate of the Titans would be with those kind of numbers at wide receiver, but with Eddie George in his prime, you have to assume the Titans would have been better than they were.

Some may argue, well, without Dyson, would the Music City Miracle ever happened? If the Titans had Randy Moss, would they have even been in that position to need the Music City Miracle? Or if Randy Moss caught that final pass in Super Bowl XXXIV, would he have broken that Mike Jones (who?) tackle? There are a lot of what-if’s in this whole scenario. But one thing is for sure, Kevin Dyson was never, at any point in his career, half the wide receiver that Randy Moss was.

The Tennessee Titans made a mistake on that Saturday afternoon in April.

The Titans are now able to redeem themselves for that mistake. A second chance, if you will.

This addition for the Titans is very reminiscent of the Manny Ramirez trade from Boston to Los Angeles in 2008.

In the summer of 2008, Manny Ramirez was causing a lot of problems in the Boston Red Sox organization. He was accused of quitting on his team in many different instances throughout that season. There were a few off the field disruptions between Man-Ram and Red Sox personnel. He was becoming a major distraction for an organization that had to fend off both the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees for first place of one of the toughest divisions in Major League Baseball.

No matter how bad it got between Manny Ramirez and the Boston Red Sox, no one disputed the fact that Manny was one of the best right handed hitters to ever play the game. Even at 36, he still had more talent than anyone which brought fear in opposing pitchers’ eyes. Adding Manny Ramirez to any lineup would automatically make the entire lineup better. Pitchers would pitch around Manny, which would force them to pitch to other hot bats in the lineup.

Finally, on July 31st (technically around 45 minutes after the MLB trade deadline passed), the Boston Red Sox traded Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-way deal. The Dodgers realized they were getting a player who was on the latter half of his career that had not only a lot of talent, but a lot of baggage also. Los Angeles welcomed #99 in with open arms. He revamped the city. And in turn, the city revamped Manny.

In 51 games, the final third of the season, Manny had a .396 batting average, with 17 home runs, and 53 RBI. The Dodgers ended up winning the NL West and sweeping the Major League best Chicago Cubs in the first round. In the playoffs, Manny posted a .520 batting average with 4 home runs, 2 doubles, 11 walks, and 10 RBI.

Needless to say, one of the more controversial players in the league took full advantage of his change of scenery.

Randy Moss could easily be looked at as the Manny Ramirez of the NFL. A player who at times has quit on his team. A player who has a lot of talent, but is in the latter half of his career. A player who is always good for an entertaining sound byte. A player with very memorable hair.

However, unlike Manny, Randy Moss doesn’t have a championship ring in his possession. Something he is craving before retirement and something that isn’t out of reach for the Titans organization.

Maybe Randy Moss will revamp the city of Nashville. And maybe the city of Nashville will return the favor.

One thing is for certain, Nashville will greet Randy Moss with open arms like they wished they had 12 years ago.

Some say “better late than never.”

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if the Titans take advantage of their second chance.


Austin hosts a country music morning radio show in Chicago after nearly a decade in sports talk radio (The Jim Rome Show, Steve Gorman SPORTS!) Colin Cowherd and Smash Mouth follow him on Twitter and he wears pants every day.


2 thoughts on “A Second Chance

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    November 10, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    this is the best thing you’ve written for this website.


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