There's no questioning Randy Moss


There's no questioning Randy Moss

By Rich Levine

It's Tuesday morning at Mall of America Field.

We open on a crowded press conference.

The podium is empty, except for a table featuring two microphones one labeled "R. Moss," and the other "Randy M." A hoard of deadline-ridden reporters anxiously wait for the proceedings to begin.

Suddenly, a lone man emerges from behind the curtain, pulls up a chair right in between the two mics, calmly flips his hat to the back and is ready to roll.

"All right, y'all. Let's get this over with," he says, speaking into the microphone to his right.

Five reporters simultaneously shout out their question:

"Randy, how was to be back in New England!? Randy, is Brett OK?! Randy, talk about how the Pats shut you down! Randy, why did you give up on that bomb from Favre?! Randy, Randy, only two targets? Talk about those two targets!"

"OK, OK. Take it easy," he implores. "This won't work if y'all yelling all at once. How 'bout this: If you have a question, just raise your hand. Raise it real nice and high like you're 'bout to hot route a corner. And I'll call on y'all one by one. Let's be civilized, all right?"

Fifteen arms shoot up, and Moss scans the room, quietly contemplating whom to acknowledge first. After a few tense moments, he looks to the empty microphone on his left, shifts his chair in that direction and raises his own hand. He moves back to the right and says:

"OK, Randy. You're up first."

"Thanks, Randy. First, I just wanna let you know how much I appreciate all you been through this year. I wanna say that I appreciate all you done. I wanna make sure you know that you ARE appreciated. And always will be."

"I appreciate you for saying that, buddy. Now what's your question?"

"OK, I appreciate you cutting to the chase, so here it is:

"You knew all the plays the Patriots were gonna run on Sunday, right? I mean, you knew exactly when they were gonna run them, exactly how they were gonna run them, and you knew the perfect way to stop them. Basically, if you were in charge of that game plan, it woulda been a blow out. So, why didn't anybody listen to you? Why is it clearly everyone else's fault that you guys lost?"

Moss lets out a little chuckle.

"Listen, man. I'm not gonna touch on that right now. Randy Moss isn't about that kind of nonsense. He's about the team. Now don't get me wrong I think that's a terrific question, and I respect your opinion. But it's just not something I feel comfortable discussing. OK, next question."

He quickly shifts back to the other microphone.

"Wait, wait, Randy! Just one more follow up

"In your postgame comments, you seemed to try and distance yourself from the team. When you spoke, you made reference to the 'Minnesota Vikings' and 'their' organization which gave off the vibe that you don't consider yourself a part of the organization; that you feel like an outsider. That was magnified when you used your press conference to gush over just about every guy on the Pats payroll, while not mentioning your current teammates including your injured QB even once.

"So, my question is: What have they done to force you to feel this way? Now I'm just thinking out loud, but is it because they ignored your aforementioned perfect game plan? Is it because they don't respect your knowledge of the game or commitment to winning?

"Also, am I wrong to assume that they obviously don't respect what you can do on the field, either? I mean, two targets, man? They're out of their mind to only target you twice! If we're being honest, I gotta ask: Why did they even trade for you? Don't they realize that you're in a contract year? If they're not gonna offer you a deal, isn't it only fair that they at least give you a chance to succeed?"

Moss takes a second, before sliding back over.

"Ahh, man," he says, shaking his head and smiling. "First of all, I told y'all that I was done talking about the contract. For now, I'm keeping my opinions on that to myself. Although, I do understand what you're saying and probably agree with all of it.

"But as far as far as the team goes? As far as not feeling welcome in Minnesota? As far 'that' organization completely wasting my potential and ruining my last big payday?

"I hate to even bring that up, man. That's not the kinda guy I am."

Moss now looks exhausted. Emotionally drained. He's no longer comfortable in front of his microphones.

"All right, guys, I gotta go get myself right for next Sunday. But I know you gotta job to do. I don't want to leave y'all out in the cold. So let's go with one more question." He cracks out a tired smile. "And let's make it a good one!"

The hands go back up, but Moss doesn't see them. He stares at the empty mic to his left, pauses for a second, and says:

"OK, Randy. Bring us home."

"Aww, me again? Good stuff, man. Listen, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but let me just say this. I think Sunday was unbelievably hard for me err, I mean you. I think it was far more difficult and emotionally taxing than you ever imagined. I don't think you ever realized how quickly things could and would go so wrong in Minnesota, and as you sat at the podium after that game, I think the reality of it all finally set in. And in that moment, I think you finally understood the consequences your behavior. In that moment, you realized how fortunate you'd been to go to work every day with a normal, down-to-Earth and selfless quarterback, a competent, confident and proven coach and for an organization that prides itself on winning, above all else and at all costs. In that moment, you wished you still called New England home, but at the same time, finally understood why that's no longer the case, and why you're now stuck in this three-ring Minnesota mess. And it kills you.

"But the only thing that kills you more is the idea of not getting that big contract offer next season, and you know the more bitching and the more public discontent you unleash, the more that offer will decrease; the faster the old 'Randy Moss is a cancer' label turns you into the next TO an all-time great whose spent the end of his career bouncing around terrible teams. And I know I damn it, I mean 'you' don't want that. So you're not gonna talk at all. You're just going to shut up and play, and show the world that Randy Moss still has it, even in the face of adversity.

"You think this will work. Am I right?"

There's a long pause as Moss shifts back into his original position.

"No comment," he says.

"All right. I'm out."

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Lance Stephenson goes back at Isaiah Thomas for recruiting Paul George on Instagram

Lance Stephenson goes back at Isaiah Thomas for recruiting Paul George on Instagram

Isaiah Thomas keeps recruiting players on Instagram. It was only a matter of time before somebody got pissed. 

Thomas, who on Wednesday commented on a photo of the disbanding Clippers telling Blake Griffin to come to Boston, was up to his old tricks again later in the day. With Paul George almost a certainty to be dealt this offseason, Lance Stephenson posted a picture of he and George pleading with him to stay in Indiana. Thomas wasn't exactly polite in his comment, leading to a back-and-forth.

"Blasted" might be a stretch, but the Celtics did indeed go 3-0 against the Pacers last season, though none of the wins were by large margins. George dropped 37 points on the Celtics in Boston's 109-100 win on March 22. 

MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge


MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge

PITTSBURGH -- John Tumpane can't explain why he approached the woman as she hopped over the railing of the Roberto Clemente Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

The woman told Tumpane she just wanted to get a better view of the Allegheny River below. The look on her face and the tone of her voice suggested otherwise to Tumpane, a major league baseball umpire in town to work the series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays.

So the 34-year-old Tumpane reached for the woman even as she urged him to let her go.

"It was just pure instinct," Tumpane said . "You hear kind of stories of this all the time, different scenarios, people aiding and situation where I was lucky enough to be there to help and try to think of everything I could do, hanging on to her. At times she wanted to go the other way. I was like, 'not on my watch, please.' We were just hanging on."

And saving a life.

Tumpane secured one of her arms. A bystander walked up and grabbed the other while another -- Mike Weinman, an employee for the Rays -- clutched her legs and pinned them to the railing while Tumpane mouthed to someone in the crowd to call 911.

What followed were chaotic moments of panic, fear and ultimately, grace.

"I couldn't tell you how long we were waiting for everyone else to get in place," Tumpane said. 'Obviously another power comes into be when you're hanging on and you know what the alternative is of you letting go and not having other people to help you."

Tumpane, Weinman and the third volunteer clung to the unidentified woman until emergency responders arrived. A police boat raced up the river to the iconic yellow bridge named for the Pirates Hall of Famer who died on Dec. 31, 1972, when a plane making humanitarian deliveries to earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed. Now, 45 years later a crowd thrust together by fate brought a complete stranger back from the brink. Together.

"Once they were able to secure her, we were able to talk her back to help us out and we got her back on this side," Tumpane said. "After that I went up to her, she said, 'You'll just forget me after this' and I said, 'No, I'll never forget you.' This was an unbelievable day and I'm glad to say she can have another day with us and I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time."

Tumpane, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, got into umpiring as a teenager, made his major-league debut in 2012 and received his full-time MLB commission in 2016, stressed he's no hero.

"I just happened to be there," he said. "I think I've been a caring person in my life. I saw somebody in need, and it looked like a situation to obviously insert myself and help out."

The aftermath was a bit surreal. After the woman was taken away, Tumpane called his wife, his arms still shaking.

"Not too many times you call your wife and say you helped save somebody's life," he said. "A really special moment."

One that stayed with him even as he prepared to call balls and strikes behind home plate Wednesday night. During breaks in the action his eyes would drift to the bridge just a few hundred feet behind the center field wall at PNC Park.

"It's also hard when you stand back behind home plate and look and you see the bridge in the distance, In between innings and whatnot, just thinking of how things could have maybe been," he said. "Glad it was this way."

Tumpane has no experience in crisis management or suicide prevention. He's spent 16 years living the nomadic life of an umpire. Asked what was going through his head while he tried to coax the woman back to safety, Tumpane just shrugged his shoulders. How do you explain the unexplainable?

"I happened to be in the right spot at the right time," he said. "Tried to be as comforting as I could and talk her through it. Thankfully that was the outcome."