|On the advice of Randy Moss, Harvin took the message of getting rid of ex-coach Brad Childress. (US Presswire)|
Once again the NFL's wide receivers are in the news. They are, it seems, always in the news. This time, it's the beginning of the Wide Receiver Redemption Tour, starring the talented, the misfit, the cut, the straight cash homie. One of those stars is Percy Harvin.
Journalist Tom Pelissero first reported these facts, and since then two sources have told me the same and added slightly more detail. Go back to 2010 and Randy Moss getting the boot from Minnesota. Moss, as he's been at almost every one of his NFL stops, was poison in the locker room, and his second tenure with the Vikings was no different.
Moss and Harvin became close friends, with Moss serving as a mentor to Harvin. Moss will not exactly enter the mentor hall of fame, but there he was shaping the young mind of Harvin. After getting released, Moss told Harvin he should do everything possible to get coach Brad Childress fired. Nicely done, mentor.
Harvin, I'm told, for whatever reason, took that message to heart. Within a week after Moss was gone, Harvin and Childress got into an expletive-filled, heated exchange, started, I'm told, by Harvin.
Several players had to pull the two men apart, fearing a physical encounter, and as they did, Harvin seconds later picked up a small weight and threw it at Childress. Surprisingly, the walking malady Harvin wasn't injured in the process.
Now, Harvin has requested a trade, and here we go again with the damn wide receivers.
It's well documented that some (though clearly not all) NFL receivers are prima donn-ic, living and breathing cautionary tales about ego undercutting self-interest. But this summer -- and during the upcoming season -- the wide receiver freak show may reach an almost P.T. Barnum level of ridiculousness.
This season will be one of the wildest rides yet for a position that often gets extremely wild. The redemption tour, indeed. Moss and Mario Manningham in San Francisco, Santonio Holmes in New York, Harvin wants a new team, Plaxico "Gunsmoke" Burress is looking for employment, Chad Ochocinco is now in Miami, and Terrell Owens wants to be anywhere in the NFL but likely won't be.
It's always risky to play pop psychologist and guess why this position is so screwy. No one's been able to properly decipher why guards or running backs or even most quarterbacks not named Favre don't have Grade 1 Diva but some receivers do.
Harvin's trade request kicks off the wide receiver madness, already in full bloom. NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports that Harvin's trade demand isn't about his contract status. Harvin, I'm told, wants a new start elsewhere, but it won't happen. A Vikings official says the only way Harvin would be traded is "if all hell breaks loose." Meaning if Harvin decides to sit out the season, which is unlikely. Though he is a wide receiver, so anything is possible.
If Moss was the 20th century version of the wide receiver pain in the rear, Harvin might be the 21st century model. Harvin, according to the Sporting News, failed two drug tests while at the University of Florida, and allegedly got into a physical confrontation with a Gators assistant coach (the coach denied this). Harvin is a talented player, who because of injury played in under 60 percent of the team's offensive snaps, and though explosive, overestimates his worth. Just like many of the other receivers on the redemption tour.
Moss will again be the most watched name. The general feeling around the league is that he will annihilate the 49ers' locker room as he has others. Manningham is interesting to monitor as well. Good receiver but the Giants weren't exactly saddened by his departure. He'll be out to prove them wrong.
Holmes quit on the Jets in the final game of the season, a fact that was noted publicly by teammates. "There were guys in the huddle not happy with Santonio's demeanor throughout the game and in the two-minute drill," the recently retired LaDainian Tomlinson told the media after that game, "and they said something to him about it."
What will Holmes be like this season? All indications are he won't change a bit. He threw a temper tantrum at a recent Jets minicamp and pulled himself out of drills. Same ol' Holmes.
Plaxico Burress once shot his own leg. That about sums it up with him. Several team personnel men say franchises in need of a wide receiver are going to wait and see if they need Burress enough to justify the risk. There's a chance he'll sign on somewhere this summer.
Ochocinco is one of the saner of the redemption players. An intelligent and actually good human being with a penchant for mischief, both on the field and on Twitter, his case will be a simple one. Does he still have ability? In New England, Ochocinco had difficulty with the playbook, and he clearly has had a dramatic loss of speed.
Terrell Owens will likely be untouched by an NFL team unless a bacterial infection sidelines every wideout in football.
It's early and we already have a wide receiver trade request and a wide receiver tirade.
Gonna be a fun year on the redemption tour.