The greatest NFL deep threat of our generation gets tossed back onto the open market and that's the exact number of teams that wanted to stake their claim (or at least stake their claim at the pro-rated portion of Moss' 2010 salary).
And that's the thing about the NFL. You can preside over a dog fighting ring, you can have one of your boys put a Vegas bouncer in a wheelchair from a gunshot wound, you can treat college co-eds like a blow-up doll (perhaps without their permission), and if you can still show the slightest sign of helping your team they'll wait for you, maybe even trip over themselves trying to accommodate you.
Why? Because Roger Goodell dishes out the punishment on the off the field stuff, what he likes to call "personal conduct." The world of an NFL head coach is turned on its ear far more easily by the other kind of "personal conduct" -- the kind that takes place in huddles, in locker rooms, in the post game catered meal. Screw up the delicate balance of the things that matter on Sunday enough times, and you're toxic.
Ask Randy Moss.
Moss has now managed to burn not one but two bridges this season, and if the waiver wire this week was any indicator, he's actually burned 31 bridges with his act of late. The only existing bridge left that Moss hasn't burned to the ground is in Nashville (and truth be told, even the bridge that led Titans coach Jeff Fisher to Moss was probably covered in lighter fluid with a lit match ready to go until it was determined Titans deep threat Kenny Britt would miss about a month with a hamstring injury).
The NFL has spoken loud and clear on this without exactly saying anything for years now -- cross the long arm of the law and as long as you appear rehabilitated, if you can get down the field or make a game-changing play, we'll turn a blind eye to your rap sheet.
But if you take plays off (or in Moss' case, enough plays to where the three or four dynamic plays you do make turn into one play, or if it's this past Sunday in Foxboro, no plays) and, more importantly, if you poison the chemistry in the locker room -- by bitching about your contract situation, by conducting your own self-promotional press conferences after games, by giving overt props to your former employer's head coach while trashing your current one (even if he deserved it), hell even by insulting your quarterback's hair style (also deserved, by the way) -- we probably don't need you.
As Foxsports.com columnist Jason Whitlock put it on Travis Rodgers' show on 1560 The Game this week, "Randy Moss is the NFL equivalent of venereal disease right now."
Yeah, pretty much.
For the Titans the risk of getting a burning sensation in their playoff loins was worth it. Thirty-one other teams decided to practice safe sex. It frankly surprised me a little bit, not because the more appropriate metaphor would have been for all 32 teams to line up and throw caution to the wind and try to claim Moss, but because there are teams that could still use Randy Moss -- teams that are still desperate enough and in situations where the one or two plays he could make in a big game here or there might be the difference in playoffs or no playoffs, employment or termination.
Here are five off the top of my head that could have claimed Moss ahead of the Titans (who had 23rd priority in the waiver order out of the 32 NFL teams) listed in order of their waiver priority:
12. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS Why it made sense: Two reasons, both survival-related -- Jack Del Rio is fighting for his professional survival (seemingly every week for the last two years) and his team is fighting just to stay relevant in the AFC South. Also, like the Titans, the Jags have the Texans twice in the back end of the season, virtually guaranteeing at least two weeks that you look like a genius.
Bonus: There may be enough intrigue in Moss that Jacksonville actually gets to remove the tarp from its upper deck and sell some tickets. This would be a much bigger miracle than anything Randy did in the passing game. 16. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Why it made sense:What's up with football west of the MIssissippi? The AFC West is a dogfight between Kansas City and the Raiders right now (two teams that have been picking in the top ten in the NFL Draft the last two years) and the NFC West -- good Lord, forget about arguing "Does a one-loss Alabama team deserve a BCS title shot?" Let's argue if they'd win the NFC West. Seattle is leading this division at 4-3 and their three losses have all been by double digits. Moss could have helped here.
Bonus: Seeing the look on Moss' face when Seattle head coach Pete Carroll tries to dry hump him after his first touchdown as a Seahawk.
17. CHICAGO BEARS Why it made sense: This is the one place that I thought made great sense for Moss -- you have a desperate head coach on his last legs (Lovie Smith), a team that's still in the playoff mix (Chicago is 4-3 in the NFC Central), a quarterback who can throw deep (the mopey but strong-armed Jay Cutler), and this is the one team where the chip that Moss should -- SHOULD -- have on his shoulder would be magnified tenfold because the Bears play both of Moss' former 2010 employers down the stretch, Minnesota twice and the Patriots once.
Bonus: If Moss thought Tom Brady's hair was ridiculous and infuriating, then Cutler's hair.....oh boy.
18. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Why it made sense: The Dolphins are fighting an uphill battle in the AFC East and imagine having Randy Moss opposite Brandon Marchall in the passing game. Plus, the "Moss Previous Employer Double Dip" is in effect here as well as the 'Phins have the Raiders and the Patriots on their schedule in the second half of the season.
Bonus: Hearing Randy Moss say that he is "taking his talents to South Beach"...
20. HOUSTON TEXANS Why it made sense: It probably doesn't, I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
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Bonus: The comedic gold of anything involving David Anderson interviewing, cajoling, or trash-talking Randy Moss.
My prediction on Moss by the way -- the dude needs a contract next year and he could not be in a worse bargaining position right now. He needs a playoff run with about ten highlight-caliber plays in the worst way right now. That's why I have this sneaking suspicion that Moss will find a way to fool everyone in the next two months, much the same way he did his first two seasons in New England.
Oh and did I mention he plays the Texans twice?
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.