Randy Moss retired today. He is and probably always will be my favorite athlete of all-time. The 1998 NFL draft is the first draft in any sport I remember watching. I had no idea then just how rare a talent like Moss was, or how rare it was to draft a player like that with the 21st overall pick. But boy was that 1998 Vikings team fun to watch. I wasn't even 10 years old yet but I could still tell you today that they lost to the Bucs in week 9 27-24 on a Mike Alstott touchdown run which was their only loss during the regular season. I remember the '98 NFC Championship game too, but I'm trying to forget.
Randy Moss made them fun to watch. Sure, the combination of Randall Cunningham's arm, Cris Carter's route-running and hands, Robert Smith's speed and Randy Moss' athleticism were the reason they went 15-1 and at the time shattered all of the offensive records. Most people in Minnesota still love Moss, and that says a lot considering he "hit" a traffic cop with his car and berated a caterer for really no reason. Of course, despite people saying athletes need to be good role models, all that really matters to fans is what they do on the field.
Joe Mauer is theoretically one of the best role models someone could have. He's well-mannered, he's a hometown kid playing in his own state, the first overall pick and the highest paid player in franchise history. He signs autographs for anyone, responds to all of his fan mail, donates to charities, volunteers across the state and never gets in any sort of trouble. But, since Mauer hasn't been playing very well this year, a lot of people aren't very big fans of him anymore. He's "too injury prone." He's "a baby." He "refuses to play first base." It's made me realize a lot of people simply want someone to produce on the field, and off-the-field issues really aren't that big of a deal to them.
That's why us Vikings fans have always loved Randy Moss. The guy produced, year after year. It's that simple. Moss played in 109 of his first 112 games while with the Vikings before being traded to Oakland. Over those 7 seasons, here were Moss' touchdown totals and ranking:
1998: 17 TD, 1stMoss scored 93 touchdowns in 109 games as a Viking (90 receiving, 2 passing, one bad ass punt return), led the league in receiving touchdowns three times, mooned Packer fans* at Lambeau in a playoff game the Vikings won and got fined $10K, famously told a pair of fans in the parking lot "when you rich you don't write checks" and then when pressed on how he would pay his fine Moss delivered the beloved "straight cash homey." We loved him here in Minnesota.
1999: 11 TD, 6th
2000: 15 TD, 1st
2001: 10 TD, 4th
2002: 7 TD, 13th
2003: 17 TD, 1st
2004: 13 TD, T-4th
*Fuck Joe Buck.
Randy Moss was the most physically talented receiver probably to ever play the game. Jerry Rice was better, no doubt, but it was called "getting Moss'd" when someone would win a jump ball for a reason.
Randy, we'll all miss you. There's not much else to say, so here's the best Moss highlight video on YouTube. The DeAngelo Hall interview at the beginning is hilarious.