So Randy Moss made much of his ballyhooed interview Sunday with Tom Brady about . . . Randy Moss.
The former Patriots receiver, now a Fox Sports 1 studio analyst, greeted his former teammate with a handshake, a hug, and a giddy shout of “Tommy Boy!” He asked: “First of all, did you miss me?”
He wanted to know which catch was better: Rob Gronkowski’s one-hander against the Broncos earlier this season, or his own beautifully casual arm-extended snag over then-Jet Darrelle Revis in September 2010.
He dug out the proverbial 2007 yearbook and enjoyed remembering when.
Those who have a longstanding problem with one of the polarizing superstars in NFL history will have a problem with his approach. Which is as ridiculous as it is predictable.
No, Moss is not for everyone. He’s too defiant for some, and sometimes his own cause seemed to run counter to the team’s best interests. He could be electrifying and exasperating on successive plays — even on the same play.
Years ago, Fox’s own Joe Buck practically collapsed on a fainting couch during the broadcast when Moss pantomimed a crude act upon the goalposts at Lambeau Field.
Moss had that effect on some people. But we saw a different effect Sunday.
In his new role, Moss is nearly as charismatic and, by the softer definition, crude as he was during his controversial, distinctive career. And his let’s-talk-about-Randy opening to the interview worked.
The segment, which aired first on Fox Sports 1 and then on the Fox NFL pregame program, turned out to be the most fun and candid interview Brady has done in recent memory.
Brady and Moss connected for 50 regular-season touchdowns in 52 games during the receiver’s three-plus season in New England. But Moss, who retired after the 2012 season, acknowledged during the set-up for the segment that they hadn’t connected off the field in some time.
“I loved my time in New England, playing with Tom, and I haven’t seen him in a few years,’’ said Moss while introducing the interview. “So Fox asked me would I go up there and do a sit-down with him, I didn’t think twice about it. It was good to see my old friend.”
That was a clue that it wasn’t going to be so much an interview as a reunion. But Brady was more than game, the result was real insight into what makes Brady tick — and why he had more in common with Moss than a casual observer might presume.
We’d always heard that Brady and Moss’s friendship extended beyond a common goal or a mutual appreciation for the other’s football genius. To outsiders, it seemed an unlikely match based on the perception of their personalities.
Moss, the guarded son of Rand, W. Va., was proud to the point of self-detriment. Brady is so polished that sometimes his interviews feel like a warm-up act for a political career.
But Sunday’s conversation reminded us that both Moss and Brady are driven by a common goal: to prove those who doubted them wrong, then prove it all over again.
“I’ve always had that chip on my shoulder. I probably always will,’’ said Brady. “I was a sixth-round draft pick. That never goes away. I was the one that nobody really wanted in college. They really didn’t want me in the pros. So I’m like why do they always want me to go away so quick? Why do they want me to go away so quick?”
Brady was referencing the embarrassing media chatter about a perceived decline in his skills when the Patriots began the season 2-2.
“College was a tough time for me,’’ said Brady, who had to constantly battle for playing time at Michigan. “[But] really, for my pro career, I’ve never had a lot of criticism. We won the first year that I played. We won two more shortly after that. And then we had some unbelievable years where we went undefeated. This is really the first time that people had . . . ”
“Came down on you?” Moss interjected.
“Came down on me,’’ said Brady. “I appreciate those teams where they come down on them every week. I’m like, ‘How do they deal with that?’ You know what I’m saying? I can’t imagine football being fun at that point. So I took it in stride.”
Moss acknowledged that he still gets asked about his bond with Brady.
“I say that our relationship is a little different than the game of football,’’ he said. “The time that we spent together was more about just getting to know one another. I appreciated and thank you for that, sincerely from the bottom of my heart. Because it’s hard to find that person in the locker room that you can trust, that you can talk to.”
Turns out that in his new career, Moss still knows how to talk to Brady. Seven years after they collaborated for 23 touchdowns, they still bring out the best in each other.
Chad Finn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.