Q and A with ... David Steele

Q and A with ...

March 03, 2005|By DAVID STEELE | DAVID STEELE,Baltimoresun.com Staff

Sun columnist answers readers' questions

David Steele joined The Sun as a columnist in September 2004. A 1985 University of Maryland graduate, Steele has worked at several newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was for the past nine years as a columnist and NBA writer.

Vinnie, Danbury, Conn.: Why would you use the Billick quote about leadership re: Moss when despite good play [Terrell] Owens is none of those things either and had a troubled history extraordinarily similar to Moss? It's just that Owens is on a complete team and Randy never has been. This time last year, Terrell Owens was exactly what Randy Moss was this off-season: a top talent whose contract and behavior made many teams wary to give a lot for him. And Moss commanded more than Owens did, and Owens was at the mercy of a league arbiter over a fourth round pick. If you'd rather have Derrick Mason, Laveranues Coles, or Muhsin Muhammad at a large free agency cost than the best receiver in the last decade, you really are blurring the field, from off the field.

David Steele: Actually, Vinnie, I try my best to keep my issues with Randy Moss restricted to on-the-field acts, no matter how I feel about the off-the-field antics of either player. Based solely on that, Moss committed what I consider an unpardonable sin: quitting on his teammates, getting so wrapped up in himself and whatever was on his mind in the final seconds of that final regular-season game that he ignored the bigger picture, the fact that he might have been able to help the Vikings get the ball back and win the game. (I was at the game several years ago when Scottie Pippen refused to go in for the final play of a playoff game, and I've had a hard time giving him his props since then as well. Some think that's unfair, but I don't.)

I also had the advantage (sort of) of watching Terrell Owens in San Francisco for most of his time there, and while he was a pain to his teammates and coaches and pretty much openly rebelled against them in the locker room, he never gave less than his all on the field. His complaints there, for the most part, were legitimate - he was on a bad team in major decline, playing with a weak-armed quarterback with very little run support and a broken-up offensive line.

Randy Moss has hardly been deprived of offensive talent to accompany him; he's had Randall Cunningham and Daunte Culpepper throwing to him, Robert Smith running the ball and All-Pros all over the offensive line. His latest coach wasn't too bright, but shouldn't that much talent get you further than the Vikings got while Moss was there? And when it came to playoff time, except for in games against the Packers, who usually disappeared first, then sulked his way through the rest of the game? Talent is great, but he should have done more with it than he has already. I'd get it if he had a record of winning and being a difference-maker in something besides a Monday-night game in October at the Metrodome. All the headaches would be worth it, the way they were with Owens in Philly this season.

Granted, I'm writing this on the day the Ravens signed Derrick Mason, and I'm guessing that fans aren't storming the ticket booths because of it. Mason doesn't put them in the Super Bowl, but I'm still convinced that Moss wouldn't, either. Of course, that's what a lot of people said about T.O. and the Eagles last spring. I'm sure that if the Raiders get there next year, I'll never hear the end of it.

Andrew, Tampa, Fla.: I feel like the Ravens really got in trouble when they let some of their quality team guys like Trent Dilfer, Jeff Mitchell, Qadry Ismail, etc, leave via free agency. Do you see any potential free agents on the market that could help improve our locker room, as well as our record?

David Steele: If you listen to the Ravens (and Brian Billick and Ozzie Newsome talked a lot about this Wednesday), Mason is that kind of guy, a perfect fit for the locker room, a player with a Ravens mentality. Apparently, that business a couple of years ago when the Titans beat the Ravens in the playoffs and Mason called Billick "arrogant'' really stuck in their heads. If you had a choice of players that mouth off, do you take the one that snaps off at opposing players and coaches and has his teammates' backs, or the one who knocks his own teammates and can't be trusted to stick with them when things get tough? Mason sounds like he has the right attitude.

But he's already here, and the Ravens need more than that. Here's a name I'd love to see the Ravens look into: Ty Law. That goes even if they re-sign Gary Baxter. Law doesn't even have to start. If he's healthy, he's a great addition to the locker room and to the secondary. Because he hasn't been completely healthy the past two years, and because he's coming off a big contract, he might be more affordable than someone with his track record normally would be. You can never have enough guys with rings hanging around your team.

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