No Debate: Randy Moss is the Greatest of All Time
There will be no debate and no argument on the subject of Randy Moss. To the team at Vikings Territory, he was and remains the greatest wide receiver of all time. For many of us here, Moss was the catalyst of our fandom — the reason to turn on the television every Sunday from 1998 to 2004.
Moss recently celebrated his 40th birthday, and with that came a celebration of his illustrious career. Analysts shared clips of the wide receiver’s 40-yard touchdowns, displays of his unbelievable speed, and highlights of his unmatched athleticism. There was no receiver like Moss; even with disadvantageous position, he’d throw his hand in the air, and you immediately knew he was coming down with the catch. He was a “freak” in the best possible use of the term.
We haven’t seen a receiver like Moss since he retired in 2013, and we likely won’t for many, many years. When 2018 rolls around, he’ll be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but you don’t need to ask any of us if he’s a first-ballot candidate — he is.
While the crew here agrees Moss is an all-time great, I wanted to ask a more personal question this week:
Randy Moss is eligible for the Hall of Fame and should be a first-ballot selection. In honor of his generational career, what’s your favorite Moss play, memory, or highlight?
Football is a team sport, and it is well-known that Moss wasn’t always the best team player. However, football teams also rely on individuals to do their part, and nobody has ever played the wide receiver position with the same chaotic magnificence as Moss did. And that includes Owens who, in a truly unbiased opinion, wasn’t ever close to being as electric as Moss was.
My favorite memory is easy. Go check out “The Lateral” on YouTube and tell me I’m wrong. I dare you.
Randy Moss is my favorite Viking of all-time for a multitude of reasons. He was the reason I watched the Purple and Gold when I was little and the reason I became a lifelong fan. Schematically, Moss ignited an entirely new era of defense in the NFL because teams simply couldn’t defend him with one high safety. He made everything look so simple, even when the defense knew what was coming. I could go on and on about Moss’s greatness.
As for one particular moment, I’m going with the easy answer here. The “Disgusting Act” at Lambeau takes home the gold, and it’s not even close. Moss torched Al Harris on a bad ankle with a double move, made the catch in the end zone to put a dagger in the Packers for a dramatic upset win, and then proceeded to playfully perform a mooning gesture to the drunken Lambeau Field crowd.
That moment has everything — Packers players getting embarrassed by Vikings players, a victory at Lambeau, distastefully upset Green Bay fans, and a legendary afro.
I will echo Adam’s sentiment while simultaneously trying to one-up him. My favorite Moss moment was his deft touchdown flip to Mo Williams for many reasons; the dramatic positioning at the end of the half, the improvisation involved, and because I was at the game. Yes indeed, young Sam sat in the Metrodome nosebleeds and watched it all unfold, and to this day it still gives me chills remembering the way the crowd erupted. I’m still not sure we fully appreciated Randy—the most electrifying playing in franchise history—until he was gone, but better late than never.
In honor of “The Freak’s” recent birthday, NFL.com put out a highlight video that showed all of the plays throughout his career over 40 yards. Unsurprisingly, it was almost over ten minutes in length. Of course, I watched it; feeling incredibly interested for the first half of it and then slowly losing interest as Randy’s jersey changed to black and then blue.
As a kid just getting into the Vikings in 1998, Randy Moss was enthralling. You could not take your eyes off of him. Much like Peterson in his early years, every time the Vikings snapped the ball you knew it could be a touchdown, whether they were at the opponent’s 10-yard line or their own. There were just so many plays where Moss routinely pulled things off that left your jaw dragging on the floor.
That makes picking just one difficult, and though the rest of the VT staff had some great picks, I’m going to go a slightly different route. In the 2000 season, the Vikings played the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs and Moss put on a show with just two receptions (for 121 yards and two touchdowns, of course). On one of those plays, near the beginning of the third quarter, Moss was out wide and took a quick pass from Daunte Culpepper as soon as the ball was snapped. Moss then proceeded to blow by every single Saints defender on the field.
It’s hilarious and amazing to watch because the Saints’ defenders have Randy surrounded but none of them (and no one ever) had the speed to keep up. I love the play because it’s one of the best examples of the top-notch speed and acceleration Randy had. Moss is unquestionably my favorite football player of all-time and the reason I’m a Vikings fan to this day.
Randy Moss changed entire defenses like no other player ever had before and like no other player has since. As of late, some have even begun to say that new styles of defense were created solely to stop Moss.
So, with that, it’s hard as a guy whose love for football started with Moss to pick out one specific play as my absolute favorite. I couldn’t help but cheat, as it’s just too difficult to narrow it down to just one. So, instead, I decided to pick the two that I believe lay out his otherworldly talent more than any other (which was rough in its right) and best sum up his career.
First, comes an example of his supernatural talent; a play that only Moss could make. It shows most of the facets of Moss’s game, from his hands to the ability to create separation and his astounding effort to stay in bounds. This play came in 2000 against the Dallas Cowboys on a deep ball from Daunte Culpepper:
While that snap shows a lot of those talents, it wasn’t the best example of his outright speed. Moss was deceptively fast. Most people know Moss was one of the few sub-4.2 40-yard dash runners in history (alongside Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders), but on the field, he often looked like he was “coasting.”
In actuality, he was flying right past defenders, all because of his long legs and next level (even for the NFL) speed. So, this example comes from yet another game against the Dallas Cowboys, an early foe of Moss, as they reneged on a pre-draft promise to take him with their first-round pick. On this play, Moss showed Cowboys owner Jerry Jones just how badly they screwed up, turning a terrible angle into a touchdown and turning John Madden into a drooling fan in the process:
Lastly, comes the (in)famous moment that solidified a win against the Packers in the first post-season meeting between the two teams in their 40-plus-year rivalry. I think the following play best represents Moss’ career in a way that many people may assume is negative (showboat-y with the afro and the mooning), but in reality, is positive.
First, Moss played through injury and more than we probably know. He played this game despite a high ankle sprain, which is one of the most painful injuries a receiver, especially one of Moss’ skill, can have. Secondly, we won this game solely because of Moss, showing how important he was to the franchise (and honestly, any franchise that he was a part of, outside of Oakland).
As we now know, Green Bay fans would moon the opposing team’s bus when they arrived at Lambeau Field (a site/smell that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy), meaning that Moss was only responding to what was probably an awful arrival at the stadium hours earlier. Thus, Moss and the “celebration” created a “scandal” that was completely blown out of proportion and unfair. Both of those describe Moss’ career and my continued hatred of Joe Buck to a “t.”