After 13 seasons, 14,858 yards, and 153 touchdowns, Randy Moss is retiring from the NFL. And sadly, Moss retires without ever having earned a Super Bowl ring. The closest Randy came to one was Super Bowl 42, the New England Patriots versus the New York Giants. A Super Bowl the Giants won in dramatic, 4th Quarter fashion.
Moss came close to pulling out that game for the Patriots, just missing a big catch during the last drive of the contest.
Moss came into the NFL in 1998, amid much controversy. Defending a friend in a racial fight in high school in West Virginia, Moss was charged with what was reduced from felony to misdemeanor battery, and charged with 30 days in jail – 3 of which he served and the rest he strangely was given 18 months to serve.
That incident served to brand him, unfairly, as “troubled” and the brand stuck with him for much of his football life. It cost him a ticket to play for his dream school, the Fighting Irish Of Notre Dame, and sent him to Florida State, where it was said that then-head coach Bobby Bowden could work with “troubled” players. That “troubled” player ran a 40-yard dash time faster than everyone save one person: NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.
While at Florida State, Moss reportedly violated the terms of his work-release probation by smoking weed, and was dismissed from FSU. He was able to transfer to Marshall University without loss of NCAA eligibility. At Marshall, Moss tore it up, scoring a record five touchdown catches against Ball State in 1997, his last year of college:
Moss arguably could have been the number one pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, but two things stood in his way: 1) Tennessee’s Peyton Manning, Washington State’s Ryan Leaf, and the “troubled” image that stuck with him, as it does any outspoken black athlete who happens to have “criminal issues.” The combination of all three factors saw Moss fall to the 21st pick, where Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Dennis Green was waiting. Checking with Vikings legend Chris Carter to ask if ready to coach the young star receiver, Green selected Moss at 21.
That was the best place for Randy Moss. With the Vikings, Moss was able to exact revenge against the NFL teams that passed on him, especially the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day:
That is my favorite all-time Randy Moss moment.
There would be many other great games, and great catches worth recapping, and I will do so in this space. But a review of Randy Moss cries out for a review of the G.O.A.T Jerry Rice.
That will come, but this is Moss’ moment.