I was among the many here in New England whose jaw dropped when the Randy Moss signing hit the airwaves.
“Randy Moss!” my friend yelled into the phone. “They signed him!”
Are you kidding me? I was stunned.
This was, after all, the same Pats organization known for their brush-off when towards “questionable” characters (rememeber Terry Glenn — wonder if they ever game him a ring in ’02). This was the same Pats who preferred the draft and waiver-wire over free agency (which reminds me, Reche Caldwell was in pass camp. Hope he enjoys practice over games). And this was the same Pats who where historically, um, tight on the wallet (Deion who?).
If that weren’t enough to make me glance at my desk calander for April fools, the Pats had already aquired Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth and kelly Washington — a formidable trio to add to their corps. Free agency was done, right? Wrong.
“Randy Moss, bro. We’re gonna win another Super Bowl!” my buddy continued.
And while I first agreed with him — a knee jerk reaction which I couldn’t help — I’ve since acquired this eerie feeling that dark clouds are up ahead for my beloved Pats.
It’s not that I don’t love what the Pats have done this off season. I do.
And it’s not that I don’t think Moss adds a dynamic to this offense. He will.
It just that, well … I challenge you to name one team in the past 30 years who won a championship by signing big name free agents. Just one.
Champs are grown, not bought.
Instead, what comes to mind is dissapointments for “Second Acts.” Take, for example, the ’04 Lakers and the ’02-present Yankees teams. I know, different sports, it means nothing substantive. You have a point. But I’m not talking about substance. This is pure gut.
For the Lakers, signing Malone and Payton a few years ago looked awesome. The Lakers had just come off a defeat to the Spurs in the Western conference finals in ’04. Four Hall of Famers in one lineup! Not even the Showtime Lakers had that many (A.C. Green fans: Sorry, but he’s got a better chance of “scoring” than making it to Springfield). But when it came down to it, the hired guns couldn’t get it done — Malone got hurt and Payton got schooled by Billups — and were steamrolled by a younger, hungrier Pistons.
For the Yankees, well, where do we start? After the Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neil, Tino Martinez and Bernie Williams era which produced four rings, the Yankees lost in ’01 to the Diamondbacks. And the floodgates have been opened ever since. Giambi, Sheffield, A-ROD, Godzilla, Abreu, Clemens, Pavano, Randy Johnson. Now that’s more dough exchanging hands than Pizza Hut. And not one ring to show for.
Which brings us to the Pats of ’07.
Most talented team on paper? I think so. On both sides of the ball, too, though the Esante Samuel thing will have a lot to do with that.
Big name free agents? Yep.
Coming off a season in which they didn’t win? Yep.
The ingredients are there — for disaster! Money doesn’t buy rings. It’s as if the Sports Gods are looking down from their recliners in the sky and saying, “Sorry, Mssgrs. Buss, Kraft, and Steinbrener, you’re check’s no good here.”
You can’t just put a bunch of stars together and expect to win it all. Pats fans, I’m afraid, will learn that the hard way in about 9 months — and then, worse, want to get more free agents.