He will always be the Superfreak to me
When I heard that Randy Moss retired earlier today, I have to be honest--I was so busy at work, I didn't have time to think about it. But now that I'm home, and really reflecting on the matter, I can't help but think that, off the field problems aside, how lucky were we? How lucky were we to watch two hall of fame wide receivers on the field at the same time? Two guys that were so different, yet so effective in their own way?
Cris Carter should already be in the Hall of Fame, and Randy Moss most assuredly will. Let's take a walk down memory lane and reflect on what a Super Freak the Superfreak was.
When Moss was drafted in 1998, I honestly thought the Vikings had wasted a pick. I was stationed in Germany, and this was pretty much the Information Dark Ages, at least for me over there. All I heard about Moss was that he was a malcontent, trouble maker, and he'll smoke his way out of the league in three years.
I PCS'd home in early September 1998, and I saw the highlights of the Tampa Bay game, watched the Rams game on AFN right before I came home, and Moss had a good, but not great game. But Hurricane Moss was building off shore, dark clouds forming, distant thunder on the horizon, and you had a feeling when it hit, it was gonna be awesome. And epic. And epically awesome.
Oct 5, 1998: Hurricane Moss comes ashore in Green Bay, on national TV on Monday night. The Vikings dismantled the defending NFC champions 38-24, and frankly, the score wasn't that close. Moss was a man playing against boys, and he made the Green Bay secondary look absolutely foolish:
Superfreak, superfreak, he's superfreaky...
Moss' performance that night (5 catches, 190 yards, and 2 TD's, homeboy) left Dan Dierdorf speechless and stammering, his performance was so dominating. Moss had exploded on to the national consciousness, and in one game he had set the NFL on it's ear, and would for the next decade.
Moss continued to dominate, and if Green Bay had been his coming out party, his Tour De Force was against Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. Minnesota hadn't been on Thanksgiving in 10 years, but by now they were 10-1 and the best team in the NFL. Randall Cunningham had taken over Brian Billick's offense, and was having a career resurgence just chucking it as far as he could to Moss. No matter how far or how deep he threw the ball, Moss always settled under it, and Thanksgiving was no exception.
Dallas always held a special place in Randy's heart...the dark place deep in a man's soul, where one thinks of revenge, and smiting the enemies before you, and listening to the wailing and lamentations of the women who's men you killed (how's THAT for some Old Testament shit, brosefs?). Jerry Jones promised Moss that Dallas would draft him if he was on the board...and they passed. Moss never forgot, and his first opportunity to exact revenge came that fateful Thanksgiving Day in 1998.
To Dallas' credit, they held Randy to 3 catches...for 51, 56, and 56 yards, all for touchdowns. And I would argue Moss' two most electrifying TD's came against the Cowboys, both on Thanksgiving, but one was in 1998, and the other was in 2000. More on that in a minute. Words just don't do this performance justice:
The screen pass where Moss just outruns the angle of the defender still amazes me to this day. Moss eyed the safety, shrugged his shoulders, went into the gear we like to call in the business ludicrous speed, and he was gone. The Vikings finished the year as the statistically best offense in NFL history, and it wouldn't have been possible without Moss. But to me, his best catch ever, and one of the five best in NFL history, occurred in the 2000 Thanksgiving game. Moss was going full speed two steps from the back of the end zone...well, just watch:
Moss didn't take the WR position to the next level, he re-invented it. His combination of speed, size, hands, and body control made him impossible to defend. You could roll a safety over to his side, press cover him, zone cover, it didn't matter. Roll a safety over and he runs past him. Press cover? Swim move and he's got three steps on the CB and heading to the end zone. Zone? He'd split the seam and outrun pursuit.
The story of Randy Moss couldn't be told without the off the field distractions, though. There was the infamous traffic cop incident, squirting the referee in the playoff loss to the Rams, and the Greatest Finishing Move In NFL History, The Moon Over Lambeau.
The Vikings had struggled and staggered in to the playoffs in 2004, and had to travel to Green Bay to face the Packers in the first ever playoff meeting between the two teams. Moss had been struggling with hamstring and ankle injuries all season, missed the first games of his career due to injury, and posted career lows in yardage and catches.
Moss, playing essentially on one leg, had 4 catches for 70 yards and 2 TD's, and made Al Harris look more foolish than he usually is:
I see a Bad Moon Risin'...I see trouble on the way
However, the mooning incident was the straw that broke the camel's back, and the Vikings traded him to Oakland at the end of the season. Personally, I think it was Red McCombs' last middle finger to Minnesota and Vikings fans for not buidling him a new stadium..which, by the way, would've only cost $400 million back then. Seems like a bargain now, huh?
After stints in Oakland and New England, Randy Moss set Minnesota on it's collective ear once again when the team announced they had traded for him with New England. Some scribe on a certain blog that rhymes with Bailey Forceman thought it was karma, a wrong being made right, and it was anything but. It was disastrous, and Moss was released after barely a month back home. And if there is a Hell, it's Brad Childress being forced to buy a used car from Red McCombs every day, for all of eternity.
Randy Moss will forever be one of the most controversial athletes to ever don a Vikings uniform, and he will always evoke extreme, almost visceral reactions in people. How will I remember Moss?
I choose to remember him simply for what he was--the best receiver to ever play the game.
Enjoy your retirement, homie.