Whether he flipped it himself or somebody peeked at his hole card, Bill Belichick showed an ace yesterday.
Word broke around the nation that the New England Patriots coach and wide receiver, Randy Moss, had drifted apart.
Foxsports.com wrote that deal with Minnesota, sending Moss back to the Viking for a draft pick, could happen as soon as today.
As we went to sleep last night, Moss was in a state of limbo.
Is he still a Patriot? Does the team even want him?
More importantly, does Belichick have the guts to go all-in and make the call?
And if he does, can this offense, with an adjusted attitude, remain as lethal as it is with Moss commanding special attention?
Moss' act has to have worn thin in the locker room, where Belichick and his staff are attempting to regain order after a rocky 2009.
The surefire Hall-of-Famer can't be pleased about his nine catches through four games, especially in a contract year after the Pats politely declined any attempts at an extension.
And look at his past. Moss just isn't the kind of guy to keep the issues under his helmet.
So the question remains, when this team returns from a three-day mini-vacation on Thursday morning, will anyone be home at "81 locker?"
New England sports fans may now get the opportunity to do what they do best, that is kick the daylights out of an athlete as he leaves town.
Just ask Nomar Garciaparra or Richard Seymour, each of whom had their heads chopped off halo first in these parts.
Imagine the verbal pounding Moss is in for if the deal happens, first for two solid weeks on sports talk radio and then at Gillette Stadium when he, Brett Favre and the Vikings come to town on Halloween.
The reports of a deal haven't even been substantiated.
As these words are typed, reports to the contrary are leaking out.
But the branding of Moss as the bad guy and the regurgitation of all that questionable history we all conveniently forgot when he and Brady ripped it up in 2007 has begun.
Honestly, if I sat at Belichick's desk, Moss would have been pink-slipped on the flight home from New York two weeks ago.
It was that game in the New Meadowlands Stadium in which Moss pulled in the highlight-reel one-handed TD grab before halftime then shut it down the rest of the night.
To me, he was clearly poison.
The Boston media sat in that same press box as I did. They watched him lay down and quit and made nothing of it.
Belichick, and most likely Brady, Wes Welker and even a leader like Vince Wilfork, clearly did.
Is there any doubt now that turning back no longer remains an option?
Moss and Belichick's sparring sessions haven't drawn blood, but you have to figure they've been heated.
Keeping Moss around scores one for the inmates in this football asylum. It erases every scrap of power and energy the coach culled in this locker room over the past week leading up to the victory over Miami.
If Moss stays, Belichick loses this football team, plain and simple.
And no matter how hard the receiver plays, or how hard his pals in the media propagandize that, you can kiss the postseason goodbye.
IF MOSS IS DEALT ...
New England would get more physical with tight end Aaron Hernandez seeing more snaps flexed out wide.
Brandon Tate would most likely slide into Moss' lead receiver spot, opening a door potentially for rookie Taylor Price and second-year man Julian Edelman.
Hernandez, who has arguably been New England's offensive MVP, would be the biggest beneficiary with more room to work deep down the middle of the field.
On the negative side, without Moss defenses will compress more at the line of scrimmage, making running the football and the short-passing game that much tougher.
In addition, defenses could be allowed to devote the extra defender spent on Moss into the pass-rush, meaning more potential pressure and more hits on Tom Brady.