… The people who continue to insult him, or say “Good riddance” to a trade that history has proven was easily a top three worst in the history of the league, really need to stop watching football or at least pretending to be Vikings fans. Now, I’m not typically in the business of defining who is a fan and who isn’t, or criticizing how people watch the team I love, but… This is something I just can’t forgive. Randy Moss was run out of town, was traded at the last minute before Red McCombs sold the team to make a little extra money, because he felt like he COULD without people tar and feathering him. While you don’t think that, as “fans” we can influence decisions that the team makes, you’re wrong. Ownership/management would never trade a player that fans love, that fans support or that fans buy merchandise of. However, when they feel like there are enough people that support trading that player, and they can save money (If they’re bad owners, like Red McCombs (See below)), they can and obviously do, or rather did.
Now, people don’t seem to understand that Randy Moss was a once in a LIFETIME talent. Now, I’ll admit it, I love Moss. I often have said that he’s the reason that I began loving the Vikings, the reason that I have this website. There’s another reason why I started this site, because I wanted to give a voice to the type of fan that I am. The type of fan that appreciates that talent, that can ignore manufactured “Scandals” (Like the “Mooning” incident, the “Straight Cash Homey” incident, the walking off the field scandal, the yelling at caterers scandal) because at the end of the day, as long as the player doesn’t commit an awful crime (Bumping a parking meter maid doesn’t count, at least anymore than physically abusing one’s own child does) and doesn’t disrupt the locker room, then we should appreciate said talent. That doesn’t mean that we should give them carte blanche to be complete assholes, but realistically we, as fans, are really just watching the game. So, we should focus on the product as is. The reality was that there was no wide receiver in the league, ever, that was better than Randy Moss and that he made our team exponentially better, so focus on THAT as opposed to whether or not he can pay a fine with “Straight Cash”.
Moss wasn’t a role model, he isn’t supposed to raise your children. He’s supposed to get open and catch footballs, he did that at a rate that made Jerry Rice sweat. He broke records, he broke defenses, he broke ankles. In the first seven years he played for the Vikings he had over 9,000 yards and over 90 touchdowns. That’s insane. He helped the Vikings create the (at the time) best offense in the history of the NFL with a quarterback who spent the previous year installing counter-tops. He also broke rookie records, he changed the game, he changed the lexicon (“You got Mossed”).
Speaking of Jerry Rice, the supposed GOAT at the wide receiver position… Rice came into the league with Joe Montana as his quarterback, after Montana left for less green pastures in Kansas City (After a couple of injury plagued seasons created a QB controversy), he had Steve Young to throw him the ball. Now, Rice is great and he deserves the accolades that he gets (Outside of this one), but no defense or defensive coordinator feared Jerry Rice like they did Randy Moss. Moss, physically, has Rice beat in every single category. I’ll prove it…
Height. check. (Not the injury to Darrelle Revis, the best corner in the NFL at the time)
Route running? Check.
Awareness/Knowledge of the Game? Check.
Blocking? debatable check. Okay, I couldn’t find a good GIF of Moss blocking, so instead here’s a picture of him looking confused/angry at some sort of juice. But, he was a good blocker, take my word for it.
Through Rice’s first seven seasons he piled up 9,069 yards and 93 touchdowns. In Moss’ first seven seasons (Before being traded after the 2004 season) he piled up 9,142 yards and 90 touchdowns. Rice had Montana as a quarterback for most of those years, although Montana missed all of the ’91 season with an injury. He was replaced by Young. During his first seven seasons Moss had Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Daunte Culpepper, Todd Bouman, Gus Frerotte and Spurgon Wynn tossing him the ball and he still had more yards than Rice and only three less touchdowns.
The main difference between Moss and Rice is their athleticism, a word I usually hate. But, Rice simply didn’t have the tools that Moss had. Lou Holtz, who has been around since the leather helmet days, said that Moss was the “Greatest high school athlete he’s ever seen” and a “Bigger version of Deion Sanders”. In an article titled ‘The Moss Effect’ on WbaiSports.com, the author, Samori Benjamin lays out the effect Moss had on the league. That effect meant that Moss “became the only player ever to play for a 15-1 team and a 16-0 team”. Not to mention that before Denver broke the record a few years ago, the last two highest scoring teams in NFL history were teams that were essentially helmed by Randy Moss. Tom Brady, Moss’ quarterback when he was traded to the New England Patriots, had a little over 4,100 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2006 (The year before Moss was traded to the Pats). In 2007/Moss’ first year as a Patriot? Brady had > 4,800 yards and 50 touchdowns. He also nearly doubled his TD% (The percentage of touchdown’s thrown when attempting to pass) with an 8.7% score, vs. a 4.7% rate in 2006. Brady also increased his completion percentage by over seven percent. The Moss effect, indeed. Not to forget that Moss broke Rice’s single season touchdown record by piling up 23 touchdowns, helping the Patriots go undefeated in the regular season, the only team to do so (After the league expanded to 16 games). Moss should’ve been the MVP in 2007, that much is obvious.
Sure, Jerry Rice won an MVP in 1987. He’s the last receiver to win the Most Valuable Player award. Again, Moss should’ve won that award in 2007, not Brady. The improvement in the Patriots offense was so obviously because of Moss, and his delight of having an actual great quarterback to throw him the ball for perhaps the first time in his career (Cunningham and Culpepper notwithstanding, but they’re not Brady, who is on the level of Montana and Young). So, when an older Moss finally got a quarterback that was as skilled as Montana, he broke Rice’s single season record, created an undefeated team and piled up the most points in NFL history. Imagine a 1998 Moss playing with Brady through 2007 (I know, Brady wasn’t int he league yet, but you know what I mean). Check and mate…
People will bring up Moss’ off the field issues. Personally, most of those were just unfairly taken out of context (The glasses at the Heisman Trophy presentation were because he was nervous, He mooned the Packers fans because they mooned the Vikings bus before the game, He said he “Played when he wanted to play” because he was asked if he played harder on Monday Night Football games and he said that the only thing that dictates him trying hard is himself, the “Straight cash homey” thing was just nonsense, and the walking off the field was a protest at the aforementioned Red McCombs which we, as fans, should’ve picked up on (I did, yay me!) and agreed with). Again, outside of real tangible off the field nonsense, I really just care about what the player accomplishes on the field. Players like Ray Rice deserve their punishments, but Moss was treated like Terrell Ownens, a player that did disrupt his teams locker rooms, when he really wasn’t that kind of guy. He just wanted to win.
Speaking of McCombs, Moss was a savior to McCombs. With Moss the Vikings sold out every game from 1998 and beyond. Because of Moss’ ability to win games almost single handedly, McCombs didn’t invest any money in the team, namely in the defense. The season before Moss walked off the field against the Red Skins with < three seconds left, the Vikings started 6-0 before collapsing and not making the playoffs. The season he walked off the field? They started 5-1 and were in the middle of another collapse. The problem was the defense, and McCombs was fined by the NFL for not hitting the bare minimum salary cap. He said that he believed the Vikings defense, which was objectively terrible, was “Championship level”. He was a terrible owner and because of him Moss, and the Vikings, were robbed of a ring, or three. However, despite that, Moss LOVES Minnesota. How many players actually love it here, or want to be here? Moss has said that he literally considered retiring when he learned of the Raiders trade, that’s loyalty. We should’ve been loyal back, and a lot of people weren’t, and that’s a problem.
The best example of an ignorant Vikings fan that I can think of happened when I was riding in an elevator at work. I was wearing this shirt (See below). If you can’t read it, it says: 23 Touchdowns, Most Receiving Touchdowns in a Single Season (A New NFL Record).
Now, I worked on the top floor of this office building in Edina back in 2008, so as I was riding in the elevator, it stopped on the seventh floor and a guy got in. He saw my shirt, or at least the Moss picture and said “Moss, huh, he sucks now”… I laughed and said, “Really?”, he said “Yeah, he hasn’t done shit since he went to Oakland”… Now… Where do I start… The shirt shows the Patriots jerseys and logo. It specifically, almost obnoxiously points out that he doesn’t suck, objectively. But that’s the type of fan that responds to any Moss post with “Good riddance”. They simply don’t understand when they have greatness in front of them, and that’s a problem.
We’ve been really lucky as Vikings fans, if you think about it (At least from a player perspective). We had the best wide receiver of all time, and drafted him with the 21st pick in the first round. We then ended up with arguably the best running back of all time in Adrian Peterson a couple of years after we lost Moss. That’s back to back once in a generation/lifetime talent. So, let’s respect or at least acknowledge the talent that we do have, when we do have it, because of all the records that Moss broke, he did end up breaking my heart (and hand, literally, I punched a wall when I found out that he was traded, and I re-broke my hand… Long story) because a large contingent of Vikings fans didn’t realize, and still don’t, that we had the greatest receiver in NFL history on our team.
It’s time to recognize. And yeah, I didn’t bring up 2010 because I refuse to believe that Brad Childress actually did that… It’s better not to think about it.
Update: I’ve gotten some messages about Moss’ “Work ethic”, so I just wanted to leave these here… He learned this from Carter.