In the run-up to the 1998 NFL Draft, there were plenty of people who thought Jerry Jones was going to grab Randy Moss with the eighth overall pick. Concern over Moss's character issues led to Double J picking Greg Ellis, Moss dropped to the Vikings with the 21st overall pick and the rest, as they say, is history.
It isn't water under the bridge, though. Moss told reporters on a Wednesday conference call that 12 years, three trades and seven wins over the Cowboys have done nothing to allay the bad feelings generated by that draft day snub.
"I always carry a certain chip on my shoulder for the Cowboys. Not as much, but I'm still ready to play some football. In a certain sense, yes, but you let bygones be bygones. At the same time, I've still got that chip."
That chip has worked well for Moss in his seven games against Dallas. He's got 35 catches, 734 yards and 11 touchdowns in those contests. Ellis was a strong and steady player for the Cowboys over the years, but he wasn't Moss and he never had anywhere near that kind of impact on games. That impact has obviously left an impression on the field over the years, but the fallout from the Moss decision doesn't end at the sidelines.
He's never said so on the record, but one has to imagine that watching Moss's career has changed Double J's feelings about acquiring players with some black marks on their resumes. Since Moss became one of the most dynamic players in the league, Jones has consistently chosen to roll the dice on talent while ignoring any smudges on the record.
The list of players given a chance in Dallas includes Alonzo Spellman, Dimitrius Underwood, Ryan Leaf, Jason Ferguson and Pacman Jones. Some of them did well, some of them barely deserve mention as footnotes but they only represent the tip of the iceberg.
The real evidence of Double J's change of heart comes at Moss's own position of wide receiver. The first one to come down the pike was Keyshawn Johnson, a player so reviled by his teammates in Tampa that they responded to his getting kicked off the team by winning the Super Bowl. Then came Terrell Owens, another man familiar with the feeling of being asked to leave his previous place of employment. Finally, there was the Cowboys playing the role of Vikings and stopping Dez Bryant's draft freefall this April.
Even if Jones wasn't thinking about Moss when he acquired those players, all three of them owe a small debt of gratitude to The Freak. If Moss was a Cowboy, there's a pretty good chance that none of those other guys would have ever worn the uniform.
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