Playing in the NFL for more than a decade, one is bound to glean his fair share of cautionary tales about dealing with sports media.
For Santana Moss, that rude awakening arrived early in his 14-year career, as a first-round pick learning the ropes in New York, the largest media market in the United States.
“I’m kind of fortunate,” Moss told Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. “It’s hard to sit here and say you’re fortunate for going through some of the things you do, but it’s true. You live and you learn.”
“In New York,” he said, “I went through something that was almost mind-boggling for a young guy to have to go through when it comes to the media in the biggest city that can talk about you. You can feel real small on the this earth with some of the words that they can say about you.”
“I went through something as a young guy, and it kind of catapulted my whole career once I went through it,” he recalled. “And I was taught how to handle it, because I didn’t know how to handle it. I wanted to do all the ifs, ands and buts I could do to the person who went out his way and tried to make me feel so small. But I went through it, and it was a blessing.”
Once Moss was acquired by Washington, he was able to bring with him the wisdom of how to deal with NY media and apply it to his new locker room. And fortunately so, as Moss signed a six-year deal with the Redskins after that 2005 trade.
“When I got up here [to Washington, D.C.], I had a guy that picked at me,” Moss said. “And I’m not going to share names, but he picked at me for… every year it would be something new he’s reporting about me. And it could be, like, not even in the season.”
“I’d be home minding my business,” he said, “and me and a business owner that I’m doing business with get into something, and this guy has to stir up, ‘Oh, yep. Santana Moss is in this.’ And then I could be doing something else, and, ‘Oh, yep. And he’s doing this.'”
“So, I laugh about it, because here’s a guy that’s searching, searching to use me to be the one that he can catapult his career off of,” he said. “So when you see ’em around, you just be nice to ’em and you just smile — like, ‘Hey. How you doing?’ — knowing that they’re two-faced and they’re trying to build their career off you.”
Asked whether he ever got to the bottom of why that reporter was targeting him, Moss said, “I don’t know. I really don’t know. I really don’t care.”
“I mean, honestly,” he added, “there’s so much that goes on when you’re in our shoes — we have people come at us from all different ways, and you do so much, and you’ve been through so much, that that’s the least you’re worrying about, a reporter that’s trying to find a story.
“We understand their job. So, like I said, I was one of the guys that understand it the most, because I sit there and talk to you and give you stories when you don’t have anything else to talk about but us losing.”
“When you understand where they’re coming from,” he explained, “then you can sit there and say, ‘You know what? If I’m not doing anything wrong, and you want to make this bigger than what it is, go ahead. Go ahead and see how far the story goes.’ But at the end of the day, when I see you, you have to look me eye-to-eye as a man, and if you can do that, and put a smile on… Like, me and this guy shared so many smiles and Hi’s, and I’m nodding my head like, ‘Yes, he’s a snake. You gotta watch out for him.’ But just going through it, it makes aware that there’s people out there like that.”