OK I admit it. I’ll confess right now. I was a huge Randy Moss fan. I mean really huge Randy Moss fan. When I first saw “The Freak”, I thought he was the second coming of Jerry Rice! I mean he could do it all. No one could catch him. No one could jump higher than him. No one had more natural athletic ability than Randy Moss.
Moss exploded onto the NFL scene in 1998 with the Minnesota Vikings. Teamed with fellow receivers Cris Carter and Jake Reed they formed an earth shattering trio. With strong-armed quarterback Randall Cunningham throwing the ball deep downfield, the Vikings looked unstoppable. Moss in particular blew people away.
His coming out party was on a Monday night in Lambeau Field. Playing the Vikings bitter arch-rivals the Green Bay Packers, Moss literally tore through the Packers secondary putting on a show for a National TV audience. The Vikings won the game 37-24 and the Nation was in awe. Moss even had Al Michaels at a loss for words. There was no stopping him.
He proved it again later that season on Thanksgiving Day. Against the Dallas Cowboys, the team that passed on him twice in the draft, Moss caught 3 passes for 163 yards and 3 touchdowns. On one particular touchdown he outran Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, who many thought was the fastest man in the NFL. The Vikings won 46-36 and they looked like a sure thing to go to the Super Bowl.
So where did it all go wrong for Moss? The beginning of the end was the NFC Championship game in his rookie year. The Vikings were heavy favorites against the Atlanta Falcons. The Metrodome was rocking and every expert (myself included) thought the Vikings would steamroll the Dirty Birds from Dixie.
However the Falcons had different plans. Moss did catch a 31 yard TD pass in the first quarter, but was held in check for the most part by the Falcons secondary. Cornerback Ray Buchanan covered him like a blanket throughout the game leaving Moss frustrated and confused. The Falcons shocked the Vikings 30-27 in overtime and I personally feel Moss never recovered from that heartbreaking defeat.
The first year was so easy for him. At least he made it look easy. Head coach Dennis Green gave Moss plenty of leeway. Carter and Reed gave themselves up over the middle, making tough catches allowing Moss to go deep in one-on-one coverage. Moss had everything going for him. John Madden even said he could have played for his Raiders in the 70s. But in one game everything changed. What the Falcons exposed was that Moss wasn’t willing to do the dirty work. They exposed Moss for being lazy, easily frustrated, and temperamental. They showcased all the traits of Moss’s dark side which ultimately led to his career swoon.
Randy Moss should have been more. He did have one great season with the New England Patriots in 2007 but that too ended in heartbreak. While he did play in the Super Bowl, and even caught a touchdown pass, the Patriots who ironically were heavy favorites, (heck they were unbeaten) lost 17-14 to the New York Giants. Again the Giants frustrated Moss and all the dark side showed up again.
So after 4 teams, including 2 stints with the Vikings, 12 seasons, unlimited talent, yet wasted potential, Randy Moss retires. I can only imagine if the Vikings would have beaten the Falcons on that fateful January afternoon, if things would have been different!