Randy Moss is arguably the most exciting wide receiver in NFL history. On Saturday, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Minnesota Vikings…
Summing up Randy Moss’s career is not simple. Big play production and superior talent was often overshadowed by poor decisions both on and off the field. Five years after his retirement, however, it’s easy to look back and forget about some of those decisions. In the grand scheme of things, they weren’t that bad especially compared to the things we are seeing with today’s players. The voters of the Hall of Fame also agreed, and on Saturday Randy Moss now has a bronze bust in Canton.
Randy Moss’s story is absolutely fascinating. If you ever get the opportunity, you really need to watch ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on him titled Rand University. Essentially, Randy did not come from much. Hailing from the small town of Rand, West Virginia Moss was a standout athlete. This athletic prowess secured him a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame, but he was not allowed to attend due to a fight he participated in during high school.
Florida State scooped him up quickly after. Moss, however, tested positive for marijuana during his redshirt freshman football season leading to his release. He finally landed at Marshall University where he excelled on the field. Because of character concerns, Moss fell to the Vikings with the 21st overall pick the 1998 NFL draft. The rest is history.
Minnesota Vikings Meet Randy Moss
Randy Moss didn’t take long to make his mark on the league. The 1998 Vikings offense was lethal. With Randal Cunningham airing it out, Moss caught 69 balls for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns. His yards per catch were a career-high 19.0. The Vikings went on to win 15 games in the regular season before losing in the conference championship game to the Atlanta Falcons.
Over the course of his next six years with the Vikings, fans became very accustomed to seeing Moss going deep. He caught an impressive 73 more touchdowns during that time span and topped the 1,200-yard receiving mark five times. Despite this production, the Vikings grew weary of Moss’s antics and traded him to the Oakland Raiders in 2005.
This ended one of the dominant runs by a wide receiver in the history of the game. In seven seasons, Moss was elected to five Pro Bowls, named first-team All-Pro three times, and named Offensive Rookie of the Year. He led the league in receiving touchdowns three times in that span.
Moss’ Career Post-Vikings
After two lackluster seasons in Oakland where Moss looked uninterested and unengaged most of the time, the Patriots were able to acquire him for a fourth-round draft pick. In his first season with New England, Moss and Brady put together one of the best seasons of all time. Moss caught 98 passes for 1,493 yards and an NFL record 23 touchdowns.
In his three and a half seasons with New England, Moss scored 50 times on 259 receptions. That is nearly one time every five touches. Additionally, Moss topped 1,000 yards receiving each season and averaged 15.1 yards per catch in that time.
After New England, he went on to play for Minnesota, Tennessee, and San Francisco over the next three years. Although not the Moss of old, he still flashed brief moments of glory before retiring for good following the 2012 season. Since then, Moss has been working as an analyst. He started on the Fox Football Daily Show before joining ESPN as an analyst for their Sunday and Monday night countdown shows.
Impact on the League
In spite of Moss’ tumultuous career, his impact on the league is profound. Never before has the league seen a 6-foot-4 man run as fast (rumored to have run a 4.25 40 yard dash) or jump as high as Randy Moss. His athleticism is something the league still hasn’t seen since. There are guys like Calvin Johnson who could outjump anyone or guys like Antonio Brown who uses his superior quickness and speed to destroy corners from the slot, but never have we seen one player possess both of those traits at an elite level.
For his career, Moss finished second in NFL history with 156 touchdowns. His total receiving yards of 15,292 is good for fourth all-time, and he is 15th all-time in receptions at 982. He finished with five first-team All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowl selections.
Randy Moss’ talent and production was so transcendent that his first-ballot Hall of Fame induction makes him the first receiver since Jerry Rice to be elected on their first try. Having had the opportunity to watch all of Randy Moss’ career, I truly feel fortunate. It may be a while before someone with Moss’ skillset comes along again, and Minnesota Viking’s fans should be honored they had the opportunity to see him dominate for the purple and yellow for so long.
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