So Randy Moss has announced that for the rest of this season he will conduct his own press conferences, providing all the questions as well as the answers, ingeniously removing reporters from the traditional Q&A, in which sportswriters have long played the Q and Moss has expertly played the A.
It's another blow to journalism, but an inevitable evolutionary step in sports. As service industries eliminate actual service -- first we pumped our own gas, then we bused our own tables, now we scan and bag our own groceries -- Moss is a streamlining visionary. In the future, all athletes will interview themselves.
As an early adopter, Moss is in excellent company. Actor Nick Nolte released a documentary called No Exit this summer in which he conducted a long, rambling interview with Nick Nolte. Asking himself about his infamous police mug shot, Nolte -- through the magic of cutaways -- lashed out at Nolte. "Do you want to talk about some dumb celebrity who did some dumb thing that got him arrested," Nolte demanded of Nolte, "or do you want to talk about me?"
For a star who likes to talk about himself -- and enjoys speaking in the third person -- what could be better than gazing into one's own eyes while plumbing the depth of one's own soul? Ron Artest once interviewed himself on ESPN.com, asking among other questions which planet he'd like to visit (Pluto) and with which singer he'd like to duet (Celine Dion). At times, he appeared to be caught off-guard by his own questions.
Stephen King, who occasionally interviews himself on his own website, suggests the practice is a sign of insanity. "Is it weird to interview yourself?" King asked himself, to which King replied: "Not at all! Most fiction writers are schizophrenic by nature. Which makes us crazy, I suppose, but it's a profitable madness."
I respectfully disagree with King. No one has ever accused Randy Moss, Nick Nolte or Ron Artest of being crazy. On the contrary, talking to oneself can be completely healthy. When Nelson Mandela called his memoirs Conversations with Myself, the title was in part a reference to coping with the isolation of prison.
Of course, Moss is no Mandela. The receiver has not always shown appreciation for the little people, among them traffic wardens, reporters and caterers. (He reportedly humiliated the Vikings' food provider last Friday, uttering crudities about their crudités). He has also shown indifference to chauffeurs (specifically, Vikings coach Brad Childress).
So Randy Moss' decision to grant interviews exclusively to Randy Moss -- "If it's gonna be an interview, I'm gonna conduct it," Moss said on Sunday -- might come as a relief to reporters. Darelle Revis can't cover Moss. And now, neither can anybody else.
Sports journalists are getting used to it. On Sky Sports last year, Cristiano Ronaldo interviewed Cristiano Ronaldo, who railed at Cristiano Ronaldo's "stupid questions." To which Ronaldo the reporter said: "Lionel Messi is [a] better player than you." Replied Ronaldo the soccer star: "Maybe I am [a] better reporter than him."
Moss is still a better receiver than reporter. His first attempt at the auto-interview on Sunday in New England helped to get him released by the Vikings. But it was still a canny move by Moss. This kind of self-interrogation is useful. Ask former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who conducted most of his press conferences this way, as parodied in a "Doonesbury" comic in which Rummy said of the technique: "Is it more efficient? Yes. Does it allow me to make the points I want? Of course. Can I use it to filibuster? My gracious, yes! Does it help me avoid unwelcome questions if I frame them all myself? Heavens to Betsy."
When you're powerful and famous and used to control, impertinent questions can be a drag. Tiger Woods, after winning the AT&T National at Congressional last year, accepted the trophy and told the gallery: "I've always wanted to do this, so bear with me." And then he stood at the microphone and said to himself: "So, Tiger, how did you play today?" Tiger replied: "It was a tough day, got off to kind of a slow start, Hunter really put the pressure on us ..." Then Tiger said to Tiger: "Oh, did he really?" It was more fun than most of Woods' greenside interviews, and no less illuminating.
What a pity, then, that no one thought of this earlier. It would have been fascinating to witness Pete Rose badger himself over whether he bet on baseball, to hear Michael Vick shout questions at himself as he entered a Virginia courtroom, to watch Bob Knight confront Bob Knight in a postgame press conference and see who caved first. My money would be on Knight, but it could go either way.