Randy Moss was the nastiest receiver that ever graced an NFL field. He was a specimen that the game had never seen before and waved in a new era for the wide receiver position.
He was huge, a 6’4″ beanpole that ran like a gazelle and left defensive backs in the dust. All you had to do was throw the ball up and Moss would come down with it.
His brilliance was first displayed on Thanksgiving in a game against the Dallas Cowboys. Moss only caught 4 balls, but 3 of them were for touchdowns as Randall Cunningham let loose bomb after bomb and Moss basically cherry picked them away from Dallas defenders and left a trail of dust behind him.
After that game every Minnesota Vikings game became an event, and Moss was the main attraction.
Whether it was Lambeau Field, The Superdome, anywhere, you had to see Moss and what he was about to do to defenders.
In the pantheon of receivers if Jerry Rice is Babe Ruth, Moss was Willie Mays. He was a highlight reel that could change any game at any time with one play.
Yesterday Moss retired from the NFL 58 catches away from 1000, 150 yards away from 15,000 and with so much more left in his tank that it’s puzzling that Moss would think of retiring even after one of his most disappointing seasons ever.
Three years ago Moss was a top 3 receiver coming off of an historic year where he set the NFL record for touchdowns in a season with 23. The next year without Tom Brady under center due to injury, Moss still hauled in 11 scores and had over 1000 yards and repeated the same feat the next year.
So to say that Moss was finished even after the season from hell would be foolish.
Moss’s year started by playing hardball with the Patriots to get a new deal. It led to him being traded to back to the Vikings where an outburst at a restaurant had him sent to Tennessee. There he sat in purgatory as a decoy who couldn’t get a sniff of the ball and wallowed in pity.
Moss realized that he screwed himself by thumbing his nose at the Patriots and thought that he was still a hot commodity.
In reality Moss should’ve realized that in the Belichick system anyone is replaceable. Once he did it was too late.
This offseason it looked as if Moss was more motivated than ever to return to form as he rounded himself into the best shape if his life according to sources and was primed for a return to the top.
However, once his primary teams the Patriots and Jets took a chance on Chad Ochocinco and Plaxico Burress, Moss’s own interest waned and he announced his retirement to the world.
Rather than stay in mediocrity with a team that he felt wouldn’t help him win a title, Moss decided to walk away even though he still has so much left in the tank.
If this truly is the end then Moss will have added another chapter of controversy to his legacy.
As great of a player as he was, Moss was known just as much for being a knucklehead.
There was the traffic stop in Minneapolis where he hit an officer with his car, incidents on the field where he walked off before time expired against the Redskins, squirting a water bottle a ref, pretending to moon the crowd in Green Bay after a touchdown.
More than anything there was the fact that Moss never always gave his best, and admitted it.
Moss took plays off and told us all about it. He was aloof for 40% of every game an never cared what we thought.
That to me is the most frustrating part of Moss’s career if this truly is the end. Imagine how even more amazing his numbers would be if he went all out every time. Imagine how much greater he could’ve been if he cared more than he didn’t.
His retirement mirrors the way he played the game. He wanted to do things his way and if he couldn’t then he didn’t want to do it at all. Moss could’ve been better than Jerry Rice, could’ve set all kinds of records and could’ve been regarded as one of the best people in the game… However, he couldn’t compromise.
He couldn’t keep his mouth shut in New England when he wanted a new deal, he couldn’t be professional in Oakland, he couldn’t listen to anyone in Minnesota and in the end he couldn’t take what was given to him during this period of free agency.
It’s sad really. Moss could help the Cowboys as a deep threat, the Falcons as another option next to Roddy White, the Steelers as a red zone threat for Ben Roethlisberger… he can win a ring this year by just fitting in and doing what’s asked of him.
However, that’s not Randy Moss. Moss has been the star attraction since he came into the league and that’s how he wants it to stay.
So we have to say good-bye to Moss. Moss was one of the best at his position and will sit in the Hall of Fame as one of the greats all time due to his skill set and stunning athleticism.
But he could’ve been so much more.