IRVING, Texas – Randy Moss has forgiven the Dallas Cowboys for not drafting him 13 years ago.
"I don't hold a grudge," Moss said. "I'm not bitter about the situation."
However, Moss still plans to punish the Cowboys like he does no other team when he faces them Sunday in what also happens to be his first home game since rejoining the Minnesota Vikings.
"I always forgive, man, that's in the Bible," Moss said Wednesday on a conference call with Dallas-area reporters. "I always forgive, but I never forget."
Moss has taken out his anger on the Cowboys the way an athlete should — on the field. He's 7-0 against Dallas, having scored 11 touchdowns. He's averaged 21 yards per catch, his most against any team.
The payback started on Thanksgiving of his rookie season, when Moss caught three passes — for 51, 56 and 56 yards, all going for touchdowns. He also drew a pass interference penalty for another 50 yards.
The bitterness started seven months earlier, when the Cowboys had the No. 8 pick and a dire need for a receiver. Moss was sure they were going to take him because of the special treatment he received during a pre-draft visit.
"I didn't do the normal things that the rest of the guys did," Moss said. "Jerry Jones told me I was going to skip what the plans were for that night and I was going to have a town car take me over to Deion Sanders' house because he wanted to talk to me. So I thought that was just a way of them telling me, 'We really want you, we're thinking about drafting you.' ... The love that I received and the conversations that I had for those 48 hours had me believing that I was going to be a Dallas Cowboy up until draft day."
Dallas was trying to clean up its image following Michael Irvin's legal troubles. Moss had undeniable talent, but there were enough questions about his character to persuade Jones to spend his top pick on defensive end Greg Ellis, a solid player and a solid citizen.
Moss fell to Minnesota at the 21st pick, so Dallas wasn't the only team that snubbed him. Yet he singles out the Cowboys because of how they teased him — and, in turn, his mother.
"I told my mom I might be a Cowboy, so she had her mind set on Dallas," he said. "I was kind of more depressed because she was more depressed. ... Just seeing her facial expression and how she looked, I really took that to heart, man, and I told myself any time I play the Dallas Cowboys I'm never going to forget that look."
When Moss was traded from New England to Minnesota last week, Jones was asked about having picked Ellis instead and how Moss has repeatedly punished the Cowboys owner for it.
"I apologize, I apologize, I apologize," Jones said. "I don't believe that's going to do any good. He's too much of a competitor. He's a real competitor, and I've known all my life that when people say you can't do it or when people pass over you saying somebody else can do it, all that does is inspire you. ... Certainly, he's made us pay, and I'm sorry we've got to play him."
Moss said Jones didn't have to apologize.
"But since he did, I accept his apology," he said. "None heart taken and I still got love and respect for him and his organization."
While he spent all last week getting ready for his Vikings debut against the New York Jets, "in the back of my mind I knew that the Cowboys were going to be the first game that I get back in the Metrodome, so I kind of had that date circled, too."
Circled, but not also highlighted and underlined like he did earlier in his career.
"I think my family life and my children and the good people around me have helped me mature mentally, being able to look past that stuff," Moss said. "Now I feel comfortable just going out there and just playing ball, because I think the NFL knows what they're getting from Randy Moss. ... A lot of that animosity and anger has left, but still at the same time, I've put those words into the term compete. I still like to go out there and compete, but I like to do it at a high level."