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Robert Smith knew Randy Moss was special right away

The former running back shares his story of his first practice with the Hall of Famer

New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Props to the folks from The Viking Age for having this one first.

Thanks to the voters that decide such things, we know that Randy Moss is a Hall of Fame caliber player. Everyone knows that now. But there was at least one person that knew it about three hours after Moss practiced with the Vikings for the first time.

Running back Robert Smith, who got an opportunity to see Moss first-hand for three seasons before announcing his retirement, saw Moss’ future on his first day of his first Training Camp in Minnesota, according to Don Banks of Bleacher Report.

“I saw something Moss did that first day, and I’ll never forget it,” Smith continues. “It was like a 15-yard dig route. And I remember the speed in which he made the cut—how easily he separated and how quickly he was able to go up and snatch the ball out of the air, never losing stride and getting upfield. It was something I had never seen before athletically.

”I had been in the league five years at that point. I had seen Deion Sanders, and obviously I had played with Cris Carter and been on the same field as Jerry Rice. Just so many great players. And s--t, back in college I was actually in a race at the same time with Carl Lewis. So I had seen a lot of great athletes. … I had never seen anything like that.

”This was the best player, maybe the best athlete I had ever seen in person.”

As Smith said in the story, he had seen his fair share of outstanding athletes at that point, not only as a football player at Ohio State but as a member of the Buckeyes’ track team. For him to say that Moss was the best athlete he had ever seen in person to that point was pretty high praise. I mean, at that point Moss was probably the greatest athlete that the majority of us had ever seen, but we’re just run of the mill folks that might have played sports in high school or even college. Smith was an elite athlete in his own right, and for him to put that sort of praise on Moss is impressive.

I really want to draw people’s attention to the story by Banks, a guy that spent a portion of his career covering the Vikings in the Twin Cities (after his time in Tampa Bay covering the Buccaneers). It really is a great story, coming out on Moss’ 41st birthday (which is today, in case you still wanted to send well wishes his way). He talks to a lot of people about just how great Moss was. It’s really worth your while to read.

It’s hard to believe that we’re approaching the 20th anniversary of Moss falling into the Vikings’ lap in that 1998 NFL Draft. It’s always nice to talk about how great he was and what he meant to the Vikings during his career.