By JP FOX-Contributing Writer-Football Reporters Online-Special to Zennie62.com
November 28, 1998. Minnesota Vikings rookie Wide Receiver Randy Moss: 3 catches 163 yards and 3 touchdowns in a Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys. I was 8 years old at the time and about 2 or 3 years into my never-miss-watching-a-cowboys-game career. In the 1998 draft, Marshall Wide Receiver Randy Moss was probably one of the most talented players in the entire draft. Off the field problems had people projecting a draft day plunge. While Dallas Cowboys held the 8th overall pick in the draft, Moss was then reportedly told by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that he would be selected at that spot. The 8th overall pick came, Dallas selected DE/OLB Greg Ellis, and Moss plummeted into the laps of the Minnesota Vikings with the 21st pick. Moss said he would make it a point to beat the Cowboys every time he played them. That game in his rookie season was a clear indication of things to come for Moss. Including that game, Moss finished with 69 receptions for 1,313 yards including a rookie record 17 touchdowns. This was a clear sign of the superstar status that Moss would soon proclaim.
Fast forward 13 years and Randy Moss is now a 35 year old Wide out for the San Francisco 49ers, signing a 1 year deal a few weeks ago fresh off of a one-year retirement. As a fan of the game, I’m looking forward to seeing Moss back on the field. When he is at the top of his game, he is one of the most electric players in the NFL, regardless of position. It was once said that he ran a 4.25 40 yard dash while he was in his freshman season at his first college, Florida State. He showed that speed in the NFL immediately with the Vikings as strong-armed, athletic Randall Cunningham quarterbacked the offense. After 7 seasons with the Vikings, Moss was traded to the Oakland Raiders, where he spent two underwhelming seasons. Going into his 10th season, Moss was then dealt to the New England Patriots for only a fourth round draft pick. In his first season with New England, Moss caught an NFL record 23 touchdowns while the New England Patriots finished their season 18-1 with that 1 loss coming in the Super Bowl. Moss spent 2 more full seasons with the Patriots.
Once 2010 rolled around, Moss fell out of favor with the New England coaching staff, notably head coach Bill Belichick. He ended up spending the 2010 season with 3 different teams: The New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans. Totaling only 28 receptions during that season, Moss decided to call it quits on an amazing career that had no business ending prematurely. Even after a reunion with the Vikings failed, it seemed as if Moss had really lost the trust of any coaching staff, and he lost his drive for the game. I thought it was pretty sad how it all ended. Here’s a guy who could outrun almost every defender who TRIED guarding him and add immediate explosiveness to any offense he was a part of. Personally, I never thought we’d hear from Randy Moss again. I was definitely wrong.
After a few teams seemed to express interest in Moss during the 2011 season, namely the Jets and Eagles, Moss didn’t budge on his retirement. At the beginning of this 2012 NFL offseason, on his 35th birthday, Moss announced that he was coming out of retirement to play in the NFL once again. To me, it was fantastic. He has unfinished business in the league and can without a doubt, help a team as a downfield threat if his heart and mind are in it fully. I was waiting to hear what teams would be interested and where he would sign. As a Cowboys fan, I didn’t think it was possible to make up for the 13 year mistake that Jerry Jones made in the 1998 draft, but I definitely had the thought run across my mind. Jones even made a public statement saying he wouldn’t be signing Moss. Regardless of that, plenty of teams reportedly had interest in him….. Especially when he announced he could still run a 4.3 40 yard dash.
Moss’ first visit was to the New Orleans Saints. I immediately thought how perfect of a fit he’d be in that high-powered, pass-first offense. People who attended the workout said Moss performed far and above expectations set for him. With Drew Brees at the helm of the offense and their tendency to throw downfield, it made all the sense in the world for that to happen, in my opinion. Moss didn’t sign. His next visit was lined up with the San Francisco 49ers. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, a former NFL QB, reportedly would throw to Moss during the workouts. By the end of that day, Moss was the newest member of the San Francisco 49ers. My thought is that it is an odd fit, to be honest. Moss still has elite speed and their starting quarterback is Alex Smith. Smith isn’t a strong-armed QB who could take advantage of Moss’ speed. Moss must have felt something during his visit that made him feel it was the right fit.
I know hindsight is 20/20 but I think Moss should have waited a little longer to see how the market played out for other wide receivers and quarterbacks. Peyton Manning is now in Denver and they seem to be in win-now mode. Moss could have added to Manning’s weapons and had a quarterback who could get him the ball. To me, San Fran is a little bit of a weird place to land. They have Michael Crabtree, newly-signed Mario Manningham, and now Moss. It’s not about the other players at his position, it’s the quarterback. Smith isn’t the type of QB that can get the ball downfield consistently. I know Randy isn’t coming back at age 35, with reportedly 4.3 speed, to be a possession receiver. At this moment, Moss is tied for 2nd in NFL history in touchdown receptions with Terrell Owens. Owens will likely never play in the NFL again. All Moss needs is 1 more end zone visit and he’ll likely be holding onto that 2nd place spot for a pretty long time. Also, since Moss is only 46 receptions away from 1,000 and a measly 142 yards from 15,000, this could be the last hurrah in what should be a Hall-of-Fame career. Here’s to Randy Moss and a hopefully successful comeback in the NFL. I know I’m excited.