By Producer Allie
No one doubted that he was talented. Ever.
The great Lou Holtz described Randy Moss as the “best high school football player I’ve ever seen.” But Moss’s greatness was always accompanied with nagging character concerns. Sure the 6’4” player from West Virginia set records and impressed with his talent, but there always seemed to be off-the-field concerns.
Those concerns dogged Moss from high school, through college, and, as the 20 teams passed on him in April 1998, into the NFL. Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green was convinced that Moss would be available when the Vikings made their selection at 21 overall. Coach Green was convinced Moss was a talent worth taking a chance on, that his off-field problems were a product of being young and stupid rather than a lost cause.
Dennis Green went on to look like a genius.
With the Minnesota Vikings, Moss found a support system that held him accountable and nurtured his abilities. Veteran receiver Cris Carter mentored Moss and a power house offense led by veteran quarterback Randall Cunningham created opportunities that catered to Moss’s abilities. In his rookie season he played in all 16 games, started 11 of them, made 69 receptions for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns, en route to winning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
But the statistics bely just how amazing Moss was in that rookie season. Watch the highlights and you’ll see Moss look like he’s just jogging as gassed defenders desperately try to stop him. Moss will almost juggle contested passes, dragging them in with his fingertips over the head of defenders who are helpless to stop it. The lanky receiver would go on to change the face of the NFL as teams in the Vikings’ division changed the way they drafted defensive backs because they needed to stop Randy Moss.
His name has even become a football term, “you got Mossed.” Not many players achieve that kind of status.
There’s something about Randy Moss getting emotional that’s touching in it’s rarity. Back in June when the Vikings announced that Moss and Ahmad Rashad would be inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor, fans and media got a glimpse of it when a reporter asked Moss about the late Dennis Green. Happy and poised before that question, Moss needed to take a moment to compose himself, before answering.
“Man, however you feel about me, you can feel. But if you feel a good way about me, Coach Green brought me here. Whatever talents I was able to showcase, he helped me do that. Just fall in his arms and give him a big hug, man. That’s my man. You see how emotional I am about him, I’m very thankful to be able to cross paths with Coach Green.”
In what would have been a good 1998 season, Dennis Green took a chance on Randy Moss and they made magic.