A LIFE SPENT THINKING RULES DON’T APPLY

If you hear even a thump while you’re driving, you go, “What was that?” So please don’t tell me that when Randy Moss pushed a female traffic officer half a block with his car, he “didn’t know what he was doing.”

Moss knew. He just doesn’t care.

The file of Athletes Thinking They Are Above The Rules is too thick to lift anymore. But Moss, the 25-year-old Minnesota Vikings star receiver, may soon deserve a shelf of his own.

Here is a player who lost a scholarship offer to Notre Dame because he assaulted a high school classmate, who got tossed from Florida State for smoking dope, who squirted a water bottle at an NFL referee, who screamed repeatedly at sponsors on a Vikings team bus, who told interviewers “I play when I feel like playing” — a remark that, according to his team’s owner, who had just given Moss an $18-million signing bonus, “made me sick” — and who just last week was scorched by his quarterback for quitting on a pass pattern.

A few days ago, Moss couldn’t be bothered with traffic instructions, so he allegedly nudged into an officer with his 2002 Lexus until she finally fell down. When cops arrested him, they found a marijuana cigarette in the vehicle, which he claimed wasn’t his, since lots of people use his five cars.

In time, Moss sounded like a victim in an opera. “I don’t know if trouble is out to find me,” he said, “but I’m certainly not out to find trouble.”

Right. If he does, he’ll just run it over.

In the locker room

Now, I have covered Randy Moss for sports stories. It is always a miserable experience. Let me share just one with you.

After a game in which he caught the winning pass, reporters waited 50 minutes by his locker. That’s a long time. Other players had showered, dressed and left already. When Moss finally showed up, before a reporter uttered a word, he screamed at the group to back off, get away from him.

“What’re y’all, a bunch of faggots?”

He then suggested the male reporters wanted to perform a certain sex act on him. He laughed about it, then yelled over to another player that homosexuality must be why we were there. The player laughed along nervously. It went downhill from there.

Still want to be a sportswriter, kid?

I bring this up not for pity. I bring it up because that is far more the real Randy Moss than the apologetic version you see in a sit-down, well-groomed, national TV interview. Do not believe the tape of Moss telling ESPN last week,
“I’m trying to change for the best.” Believe the tape of Moss outside the jail, snarling at a female reporter who had the audacity to ask him about his traffic incident.

“What did I just tell you, woman?” Moss barked. “I’m not getting into that.”

In Moss’ view, he’s king, you’re dirt, and why should he think otherwise?

“I already have everything I need, everything I’ll ever need,” Moss said not too long ago.

In the world of repentance, they call that “lack of motivation.”

On the gridiron

But here’s the real lack of motivation. He’s playing in tonight’s game. His team — which has steadily sunk as his antics have increased — is 0-3 on the season. And after all, winning is what counts, right?

So Moss — after being fined a pittance of his eight-year, $75-million contract — doesn’t miss a beat. He is absolved because he is talented. His coach salutes his courage. His owner says “the Viking family wants to offer Randy all the support that we can.”

And Moss hasn’t even apologized to the traffic officer.

Not long ago, Moss was sent to anger management therapy. He was asked recently what he learned from it.

“Nothing. A whole lot of nothing. I’m doing the same now as I’ve always been doing.”

So are the people around him.

And that’s the problem.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760). Also catch “Monday Sports Albom” 7-8 p.m. Mondays on WJR.

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