The Minnesota Vikings coach got the player he wanted … and he didn’t even have to send hired goons to Mississippi to coax him out of retirement.
Randy Moss is back with the Vikings, the franchise he left six seasons ago as the second-leading receiver in team history. He enjoyed some of the best seasons of his career there. He also bumped a traffic cop with his SUV, “mooned” Lambeau Field, and bailed early during a late-season game at Washington. For a relatively low price (a third round pick) the Vikings think they’ve finally found that deep threat they’ve been desperately trying to get since losing Sidney Rice to injury.
Expectations are never quite as high the second go-round, but Moss should have enough left in the tank to help the Vikings. Sometimes it works when aging stars come home to their original teams (Steve Nash in Phoenix, Jason Kidd in Dallas). But sometimes it doesn’t, as these five teams found out with guys who were shells of their former selves on their second tour of duty.
Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
Has an NBA superstar ever fallen off the map so quickly? After a bizarre three-game stint in Memphis, Iverson returned to Philly last season after a five-year absence. Iverson wasn’t terrible (averaging 13.9 points and 4.1 assists in 25 games) but was nowhere near the scoring machine he was earlier in the decade. Though his skills declined, his popularity with the fans didn’t. Basically summing up what is wrong with the NBA All-Star selection process, he was voted to the game as a starter in 2010.
Antoine Walker, Boston Celtics
These days, you’re more likely to see Antoine Walker shaking a cup for change on a street corner than on an NBA court. Walker’s recent financial woes make it hard to remember these days, when he was a three-time All-Star on a lot of bad Boston teams. Walker made his way back to Boston in 2005 after splitting a year between Dallas and Atlanta. Wearing No. 88, Walker was mediocre, averaging a near career-low 16.3 points and a career-low 3.0 assists. After 24 games, he was promptly shipped to Miami in the largest trade in NBA history.
Vinny Testaverde, New York Jets
Vinny didn’t start his career with the Jets. But I had to include him just because his brief 2005 return to the team was so awful. Seven years after he led the Jets to the AFC Championship, injuries prompted them to bring Vinny back after a one-year stop in Dallas. He made four starts, throwing one touchdown and six picks, and recording his worst QB rating since 1991. He eventually injured his leg and New York gave the keys to Brooks Bollinger. Not exactly a triumphant return. Then again, Vinny was 41 years old at the time so maybe I should cut him some slack.
Ed Johnson, Indianapolis Colts
Johnson isn’t an aging star, but he deserves a spot on this list simply for screwing up in his return. He seemingly had a bright future after leading the Colts’ defensive line with 72 tackles as a rookie. But he was later shown the door for being pulled over for speeding with marijuana in his car. Flash forward another year, and it happens again. Not a brush with the law, but Johnson is cut for reportedly being fat and lazy. Johnson recently resurfaced with the Carolina Panthers and former Colts defensive coordinator Ron Meeks. We’ll see how long it lasts.
Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners
Griffey should have retired years before returning to the Seattle Mariners in 2009. He lasted just 33 games this season, hit no home runs for the first time in his career, and posted a career-low batting average of .184. Why did Seattle bring back a broken down Griffey? Actually, a better question would be why would Griffey want to play for the Mariners again? That pathetic franchise has been in the gutter for several years. A sad end for a one of the few players left in Major League Baseball whose name has not been mentioned in steroid discussions.