BEST VIKINGS PLAYER - 2003
Ostensibly, this season's backlash against Moss was about the Freak's erratic off-the-field behavior, most notably his arrest in September for a minor and entirely absurd encounter with a traffic control agent in downtown Minneapolis. Of course, this is hogwash. For all the talk about the importance of character in sport, fans, pundits, and the participants themselves share one priority: winning. And that's something the Vikings haven't done much the past two seasons, finishing 5-11 in 2001, and 6-10 in '02. As the team's biggest star, Moss is expected to deliver the Ws. When he doesn't, Joe Six Pack gets pissy, particularly if said star wears his hair in cornows and refuses to say the "right thing." Moss seldom says the right thing. Given the unctuous pieties and-clichÈs spouted so profligately by the game's standard bearers (read: former teammate Cris Carter), that alone is reason enough to like Moss. Another reason: He remains among the NFL's most talented players. Allegedly, 2002 was an off year for the five-year veteran. He scored just seven TDs--a career low--and didn't come up with his customary big play as reliably as in the past. That said, he led the NFC in both receptions (106) and receiving yards (1,347). And despite Moss's reputation for loafing when there is nothing on the line, he delivered 100-plus-yard performances in the Vikes' season-ending three-game winning streak.