The NFL’s first weekend of free agency blew by Randy Moss like he wasn’t even there — reminiscent of the way he blew by defenders.
Unable to sign on with a team that was willing to pay him according to his financial demands and unwilling to play for a team that he didn’t handpick, Moss decided that that it was time to pull down the curtain on a stellar 13 year NFL career. Moss finishes his career as one of the most prolific receivers in NFL history with career numbers comparable to any receiver not named Jerry Rice. Moss is ranked 6th in career receptions (954), 5th in receiving yards (14,858) and 2nd in touchdown receptions (153).
WATCH NBC SPORTS COVERAGE OF RANDY MOSS AND HIS CAREER:
At 6’4” 215 lbs. was a unique blend of size, speed and skill — never seen before in an NFL receiver. Moss was able to run by cornerbacks outleap safeties pulling in passes at their highest reception point. Rarely venturing over the middle which would take away his ability to stretch the defense, Moss’ speed and ability were potentially crippling to any defense whether they prepared for him or not. Moss had been on the radar of NFL scouts since his days as a standout at receiver at Marshall University — entering the NFL Draft his sophomore season under a cloud of legal problems dating back to his freshman year at Florida State where he never played a down.
That cloud seemed to follow Moss into the NFL where after finishing fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting he was passed over by 20 teams before he was selected by the Vikings 21st overall. Moss took the selection personal directing his frustration at the Dallas Cowboys, whom he says promised to draft him but chose not to because of their own in-house issues. Moss would score 17 touchdowns in his rookie season, an NFL record.
For all of Moss’ talent and potential he was at times his own worst enemy, whether in word or deed Moss was as polarizing a figure that the NFL and sports for that matter has ever seen. For every seemingly overthrown pass that Moss tracked down there was one with a lesser degree of difficulty that he wouldn’t pursue. Whether it was running out of bounds on a play in which he wasn’t the focal point or short-arming a pass thrown his way, there were periods within the game where Moss looked disinterested — dare I say bored. Moss has been labeled by many as a quitter and anything but a team player. But by the same token we’ve seen what Moss can become when he’s focused completely on football.
During the 2007 season, Moss broke the single season record for touchdown receptions with 23 as a member of the New England Patriots. Moss teaming up with quarterback Tom Brady formed one of the great single season tandems in NFL history. Despite a perfect regular season the Patriots were defeated by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
Many in the media viewed Moss as a man of mystery. Is he the player that spoke passionately and wept for fallen teammate Korey Stringer in the days following his passing 10 years ago or is he the brash wideout that imitated mooning Green Bay Packer fans or spraying a referee with a water bottle?
The term “diva” is thrown around freely when it comes to wide receivers that tend to constantly make waves. Taking inventory at some of the antics that I’ve seen from other receivers over the years, I can’t come to terms with Moss being a “diva”. And though he’s had his share of memorable moments and soundbytes, Moss is more Lil Wayne than he is Kanye West.
It looks like the NFL that Randy Moss dominated for over a decade has chosen to move on without him. Even his retirement remains a mystery — with the announcement was made by his agent thus raising speculation that Moss is just frustrated.
In the midst of the NFL lockout Moss’ agent stated that he was in the he “best shape of his career”. The fact that Moss was unable to agree on a deal left him shocked and humiliated. The sting of the Super Bowl XLII loss to the Giants lingers. The memory of playing for three different teams last season was the ultimate embarrassment.
Still productive at 34, Moss can help a team looking for the at final piece to put them over the top. I believe we’ll see Randy Moss at some point during the 2011-12 season, too many things happen during in the course of a season for me to believe that his phone won’t ring at some point — I’m willing to bet on that.
“Straight cash homie!”