A Tribute To The One And Only Randy Moss
With the 2011 NFL season underway and the post-lockout free agency frenzy behind us, it looks as if Randy Moss will remain retired. I’m still a bit shocked and saddened by what I personally take to be Moss’ knee-jerk reaction to his dissatisfaction with the free agent market. Perhaps after 13 seasons I shouldn’t be surprised. Many NFL careers have been cut short (remember Robert Smith?) either intentionally or by unforeseen circumstances. As a lifelong Vikings fan, Moss holds a special place in my heart. Has it really been 13 seasons? Is it really time for Superfreak to hang his gloves on his fencepost rather than his face mask?
This is my tribute to Moss’ days in purple.
I remember the 1998-1999 season very well. After the Vikings used their first round draft pick on the young Moss, expectations were high. In his rookie season, Moss lined up alongside fellow wide receivers Chris Carter and Jake Reed. I was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, a college town just across the St. Croix river from Minnesota. While its proximity to Minnesota was close, River Falls was most certainly a Wisconsin town, loaded with evil, nasty Packer fans. More on this later.
It didn’t take the young rookie very long to make a name for himself in the NFL. The Vikings gave a glimpse of Moss’ talent during their 4-0 preseason start, but an appetizer for what was to become a touchdown bonanza was offered up in week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“There are going to be nightmares for corner backs in the NFL…”
As the 1998 season continued, the Vikings continued their dominance. The media was taking notice of Moss after several multi-touchdown games. Even Chris Carter seemed to be a bit smitten with Moss.
As a Minnesotan living behind enemy lines in Packer country, I eagerly waited for the first prime time showdown between the Vikes and the Pack. October 5, 1998 was a beautiful fall evening, and I had just finished a three-and-a-half hour freshman English course. What on Earth I was thinking by taking an evening class held just once a week (as a freshman), I have no idea. As I hot-footed back to my dorm, I could hear cheering coming out of open dorm windows.
What’s the score? Who’s winning? Are those Viking fans cheering? Packer fans?! Damn you, English!
Within minutes of my arrival, I realized it had been both. The score was 10-10 and the tension thick. Fortunately my roommate was from Minnesota, but everyone else on our floor was sporting green and gold. TV volumes were maxed out. Few words were spoken. Dan Dierdorf rambled. Al Michaels struggled to make his voice heard over the roaring Lambeau crowd. Viking QB Randall Cunningham went under center, first and ten, at the Vikings 48 yard line. Tension was palpable. Then this happened…
“Randy Moss is the best young receiver that I’ve seen, maybe, ever.” – Dan Dierdorf
Bingo. This now-famous highlight from Moss’ best-of reel still stands as one of my all-time favorites. Look at him dance over those goofy Packer cornerbacks. What’s Sharper doing? Is that supposed to be a tackle?
A few weeks later, Grandmothers across Minnesota sat disappointed as the Vikings faced the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, giving family members everywhere plenty of excuses to not speak to one another. This could possibly be my favorite football watching memory, particularly with my dad. Randy Moss caught an incredible THREE turkey-day touchdowns. Moss absolutely owned cornerback Kevin Smith that day. The first TD occurred just two minutes into the first quarter, with the Vikings executing the ol’ flea flicker with pure perfection.
“…and when he turns it on, I don’t think there is anyone faster in this game than Randy Moss.” – John Madden
Yep. That’s the Randy I remember. I don’t seem to recall, or care for, the off-the-field, roach-in-the-ashtray, running-over-traffic-cops-downtown Randy (well, maybe a little). I remember the young, (mostly) humble Randy. There was a time when he barely spoke during interviews, especially during that first season. With talent, money and fame, he grew cockier over the years. I certainly don’t miss the take-a-play-off-every-once-in-awhile, or I’m-gonna-sit-here-and-pout Randy. Eventually he wore out his welcome in Minnesota, and some might say he was bad for the game of football. Still, you couldn’t ignore his talent.
Whether it was his one-handed catches…
…mooning Packer fans (I absolutely love this)…
…or talking trash to Packer fans at Lambeau…
…the NFL just seemed like a better place with Moss in it. Each and every Sunday there was always a possibility for a gravity-defying, physics-bending, one-handed catch from Moss. Unless you were going against him in your fantasy league, didn’t it always make you smile a little bit to watch Randy catch another touchdown, or burn another corner? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe the late 90’s almost-glory I experienced as a Viking fan thanks to #84 is the reason it’s hard to say goodbye.
I leave you with this gem of a highlight reel. It encompasses Moss’ 1998-2004 tenure with the Vikings, via Vikings.com.
What do you say, Randy? Come on back for one more year?
A special thank you to Eric Steinke for writing a submitting this post to MN Vikings Blog . com