Written by Justin Prince.
In a little over a week, on February 3, during NBC’s live telecast, the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2018 will be officially announced.
Former Marshall University star Randy Moss is among the 27 semi-finalists hoping to be enshrined in Canton come August. This is Moss’ first year eligible to be on a Hall of Fame ballot and while most people would agree his on field contributions warrant being a first ballot selection, some will argue that other issues should keep Moss waiting.
In 14 seasons in the National Football League, the six-time Pro Bowler ranks 2nd all-time in career receiving touchdowns (156) and 4th in career receiving yards (15,292). Only Jerry Rice has had more 1,000 yard receiving seasons and more games with 100 receiving yards than Randy Moss.
Moss holds the NFL records for most receiving touchdowns in a single season (23) and most touchdowns caught by a rookie (17).
Those are Hall of Fame numbers and that’s not even debatable. And coupled with Moss’ awe-inspiring athleticism, knack for the highlight reel catch, and the sheer impact he had on NFL defenses and their coverage philosophies, and Moss’ walking into immortality in Canton on the first ballot should be a guarantee. But, it isn’t.
The Rand, West Virginia, native’s path to enshrinement is littered with potholes and roadblocks. Some of them created by Moss himself; others placed there in hopes of stalling the former NFL great by those with a real or imagined vendetta against him.
The fight, the S.I. story, and the Heisman ceremony.
Moss’ football career essentially started with a sketchy public image after a racially charged fight in high school cost him a scholarship to play at national powerhouse Notre Dame. Moss was charged with malicious wounding as a result of that fight and soon after the Fighting Irish released a statement that Moss didn’t meet the admission standards for the prestigious university.
Moss eventually took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to two counts of battery for the aforementioned fight. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a year of probation. He then enrolled at Florida State where he astonished Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden with his talents.
“He is a bigger version of Deion Sanders,” Bowden once exclaimed referencing the sheer athleticism that Moss shared with the NFL Hall of Famer who played his college ball at FSU. “Deion is my measuring stick for athletic ability and he was just a bigger Deion.”
But, another run in with the law would cost Moss again, this time it was a probation violation for smoking marijuana and failing a drug test. Florida State, which was having a bit of an image problem itself at the time, had no choice but to cut ties with Moss before he ever played a single snap in a game. Moss also had to serve a two-month jail sentence for breaking his probation.
Moss would then end up back home in West Virginia joining the Marshall football program. On the field Moss set records, but once again, another run in with the law would tarnish the image he had begun rebuilding. On November 17, 1996, Moss was charged with domestic battery after an argument with his children’s mother Libby Offutt. Moss claimed he was only trying to restrain her and Offutt’s father Frank was quoted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune as saying “They were both to blame.”
But perhaps the most damaging thing to Moss’ image that occurred while at Marshall was a 1997 Sports Illustrated article written by S.L. Price entitled “Cut Off From The Herd: Randy Moss’ Journey As Marshall’s Biggest Star.”
Price came into Huntington and spent an afternoon having lunch with Moss at a Bob Evans for the piece where he eviscerated Moss’ already damaged character based off their lunchtime chat. It was clear from the opening paragraph that Price wasn’t concerned with getting to know Moss as a person or a player; he was there to write a hit piece.
“Everybody’s watching him. Randy Moss can feel the eyes of the lunchtime crowd at the Bob Evans restaurant, the double takes and furtive glances from the men in short sleeves and wide ties. He’s got his act down: gray hood over his head, butt slumped in the booth, eyes as lifeless as buttons. Moss is a wide receiver at Marshall University, in Huntington, W.Va., and he figures to be rich before long. He jabs at his toast with a plastic straw.”
That’s how Price opened his feature article on Moss by describing a 20 year old college athlete basically the same way horror movie master John Carpenter described serial killer Michael Myers in the slasher film classic Halloween.
“Eyes as lifeless as buttons.”
That’s really how Moss was described in the opening of the Price piece.
Unfortunately for Moss, the article would only get worse. Price goes on to mention that Moss admitted to sleeping in and missing a communications class that day even though it’s inconsequential to the piece other than to further the narrative that Price wants to tell, which is that Moss is a bad guy—a villain—despite skipping class occasionally being something nearly all college students have done.
Price then criticizes Moss’ cornrows, paints him as bitter and uses a quote about being blessed by God to make Moss a narcissist.
“The way I see it, God has a magic wand and he taps just a lucky few on the head,” Moss told Price about the athletic gifts he had. Price thought the comment was cocksure and oozed entitlement.
“That he can say this, straight-faced isn’t nearly as disconcerting as the fact he says it here,” Price writes. “In a place about as far from the universe of blue-chip cockiness as you can get.”
To an extent Moss was bitter, something the nearly 41-year-old now admits. He felt like he was targeted because of his race and as well as his skill and he was angry about it. Even commenting at one point how much disdain he had for the state of West Virginia and that he couldn’t be happier to get away from it.
A feeling that many young West Virginians, who are far less scrutinized than Moss can relate to. And like most West Virginians, it was something Moss eventually grew past.
But, the worst was still yet to come. Price would go on to ask Moss about the tragic 1970 Plane Crash and how it impacted Moss on game day. Did he think about it and use it as motivation
Moss answered honestly. That the crash was something he didn’t really think much about before playing football. But, the way the quote was worded in the piece made it seem as if Moss thought the plane crash and the loss of human life was trivial.
“The plane crash was before my time,” Moss is quoted by Price as saying. “I don’t try and go out and say this football game is for the people in the plane crash. I’ve seen the burial ground. I went up there and looked at the names. It was a tragedy, but it really wasn’t nothing big.”
And that’s where Price’s quote stops. Moss has contended that he was saying it wasn’t a big factor in how he prepared for a football game and that the quote wasn’t in full or in context. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but it was clear from the rest of the story Price’s intentions weren’t to make Moss look good and that quote still haunts Moss in Huntington to this day in the minds of some fans.
There was perhaps another more telling quote in the story though that best detailed the mindset of a young man struggling with his gifts, his mistakes, and those around him that saw him as a meal ticket rather than a person.
“I don’t trust anybody,” Moss told Price. “I’ve got a girlfriend, I don’t trust her. My mom, my daughter, I trust them, but anybody else? I don’t even trust my roommate.”
In Moss’ mind Price would prove he couldn’t trust the media either and the S.I. story kicked off a sordid relationship with journalists and media members that would last throughout Moss’ career.
At the 1997 Heisman Trophy ceremony, Randy Moss stood along side Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf and eventual winner Charles Woodson with his hair in braids and sunglasses on his face.
This is how analyzed Moss was at 20 years old, that even wearing sunglasses to an award ceremony made people comfortable in casting their character judgments against him.
In the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Rand University” Moss explained that he didn’t wear the sunglasses as a sign of arrogance, but as a sign of fear.
“I was so timid and camera shy,” Moss said in the documentary. “Being from a small town at the Heisman trophy ceremony on national T.V. I was a little scared. All I know is the glasses gave me a comfort, to be able to sit up there beside Charles Woodson, Peyton Manning, and Ryan Leaf.”
But others saw Moss’ sunglasses as disrespectful to the moment and the award. To those people it was further evidence that Moss was the villain that Price and others had painted him to be.
“That was a mighty expensive pair of sunglasses Randy Moss wore to the Heisman trophy presentation in December,” Michael Rosenberg wrote in a May 1998 story for the Chicago Tribune. “Conservatively speaking, the shades probably cost Moss several million dollars.”
Rosenberg, whose piece was in defense of Moss, goes on to talk about how Moss’ hair and glasses were perceived by the largely white brace of the NFL.
“Moss’ sunglasses actually went quite nicely with his braided hair, another fashion faux pas that sent NFL executives running around in circles, wondering what to do with the guy,” Rosenberg writes. “Moss finally wised up and cut off the braids; if he hadn’t, he surely would have fallen out of the first round.”
But back in Huntington, inside the Thundering Herd locker room, those that played with Moss during his two-year stay at Marshall loved him.
“Randy was the ultimate teammate,” said Aaron Ferguson, a member of the Marshall University Athletics Hall of Fame, who played along side Moss in 1996. “He worked hard, he prepared hard and was willing to do whatever it took to win. Whether it was catching passes, returning kicks, or blocking downfield. He was the best.
He’s still the best teammate to this day, because every time my kids have a birthday or a special event he’s on Twitter wishing them well. No matter how busy he is, no matter how famous he gets, he’s never forgot his Marshall teammates.”
Being loved in the locker room but being vilified in the media is something that Moss would carry with him from college into the NFL.
Minnesota Vikings, “I play when I want to play,” and the moon over Green Bay.
In Minnesota, Moss was instantly a fan favorite and lining up opposite of Hall of Famer Cris Carter, the Vikings offense was one of the league’s best from the get go. In Moss’ first season with the Vikings he caught 69 balls for 1,313 yards and a NFL rookie record 17 touchdowns.
As Moss tore through defensive secondaries in 1998, the Vikings tore through its schedule going 15-1 and were heavy favorites to make Super Bowl XXXIII out of the NFC. However, the Atlanta Falcons would upset the Vikings in the Conference Championship when kicker Gary Anderson missed a field goal that would have given Minnesota the win. It was Anderson’s first miss of the season.
It was a tough loss for the Vikings, but, with its rookie sensation in the fold and most of its offensive talent set to return, the future seemed to be bright in Minnesota.
In 1999 Moss was again spectacular catching more passes for more yards than he did as a rookie while also still bringing in double digit touchdowns. But, the Vikings didn’t fare quiet as well going 10-6 in the regular season and losing to Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
Moss’ image seemed to be on the mend. He was the Vikings top star and was becoming the face of the franchise with endorsement deals making him even more visible to those who weren’t diehard NFL followers. There were some rumblings that Moss could be surly to reporters in post game interviews but other than that, his first two seasons in Minnesota came without any of the baggage that had concerned NFL executives.
“The worst advice I was ever given was when we drafted Randy someone told me not to get involved with Randy Moss,” Carter told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. “Randy and I were good from the first phone call. A lot of people thought Coach (Denny) Green and I had to tell Randy when and how to do everything. We didn’t. He did everything on his own and never needed to be told.”
But, while Moss was endearing himself to fans, coaches and teammates, the media remained skeptical. With Moss feeling like reporters had burned him in the past—especially with the Sports Illustrated story—he was admittedly standoffish with the press.
“Sometimes you just don’t feel like talking or you don’t have anything to say,” Moss said in an interview with USA Today in 2015. “But, the media knows that we (players) are obligated to talk to them. Then they want to just come up and just hound you for a whole two or three weeks and if you snap – it’s a bigger story.”
In 2000, Moss squirted an NFL official with a water bottle after a disputed call and was fined thousands of dollars by the league. The media used the action to turn their skepticism for how Moss sometimes handled dealing with them to confirmation of the man Moss was painted to be before entering the league. Suddenly, Moss was once again vilified in the press.
On the field though, Randy was still excelling as he caught another 77 passes for 1,437 yards and 15 touchdowns in his third NFL season. The following year in 2001 however, would spell the beginning of the end for Moss in Minnesota and his image would take another permanent ding.
When asked if certain people or certain types of atmospheres motivated him to play harder, Moss responded with the now infamous “I play when I want to play” quote. The media ran with it and declared it was Moss admitting to taking plays off and only playing when he felt like it, despite that not being what he actually said.
Cris Carter tried to clear up the misunderstanding for his teammate a few days after the quote first made waves.
“Did he mean it? Yes,” Carter said at a Vikings media gathering. “But not exactly how it was portrayed. It wasn’t totally taken out of context but it was asked in the sense of: Does Coach Green get you motivated? Do you like playing on Monday Night Football? Do you like playing the Packers more? Does Cris have to get on you to make a play? And he said, ‘No, I play when I want to play.’”
But, when reporters gave Moss his own chance to clarify the situation, he stubbornly doubled down.
“Why should I clarify it,” Moss asked. “That sh*t is what I said.”
Today, Moss acknowledges this response was the wrong one. He says it came from his distrust and felt that no matter what he said it would be twisted so he chose to stick to his guns.
“I think that was just mixed up over the years,” Moss told ESPN in 2017 about the quote, expressing regret for not taking the opportunity to make things clear. “As you mature, you grow, and I think that I really should have spoke up about it and told what I really meant. But, that’s in the past. I love the game so much. I sacrificed so much. I only cared about the game of football.”
But, for many, the damage was done. Not only was Moss labeled a troublemaker; he was now also labeled as lazy. It was an easy label to give a guy who was so gifted he made even the most difficult of plays look effortless. But, this is the NFL the highest level of football in the world. No player, no matter how gifted could do what Moss did if they weren’t putting in effort.
“People who say Randy Moss didn’t work hard don’t know what they’re talking about,” said Marvin Jones, a receiver for the Detroit Lions that Moss mentored during the offseason last year. “The workouts that he did, that he still does and that he put me through are some of the most intense I’ve ever had. And he’s hyper competitive with me and with all the other young receivers working with him. He’s busted his ass and ours.”
From 2002 to 2004, Randy’s last season in Minnesota before being shipped off to the Oakland Raiders, more incidents would occur. Some of them minor like fines and penalties for taunting opposing players and some more serious like the incident where Moss was attempting to make an illegal U-Turn and bumped a traffic cop with his vehicle in the process. During that incident a small amount of marijuana was found in Moss’ Lexus sedan and the NFL heavily fined Moss giving birth to another famous quote – “Straight cash homie.”
It’s funny now because that quote is viewed as amusing and playful, but at the time, it was used as another sign of Moss’ arrogance and entitlement.
In spite of all of this, the player nicknamed “The Freak” was continuing to shine. He had the best year of his career in 2003 when he caught more than 100 passes and averaged more than 100 yards and a touchdown per game with 1,632 yards and 17 TDs.
Even in a 2004 season where Moss battled a serious hamstring injury as well as a lingering ankle issue and missed several games, he still managed to finish fourth in the league in TD receptions with 13.
During the playoffs following that 2004 season, the Vikings and Moss, who was questionable to even play due to the injury, made a trip to Green Bay to take on the Packers at Lambeau Field.
A hobbled Moss who could barely move and was nowhere near 100 percent put in one of the gutsiest playoff performances in NFL history. However, it would be overshadowed by a celebration after Moss made his second TD catch to put the game out of reach.
After beating Packers defensive back Al Harris one-on-one for the score, Moss trotted over to the goal post where he pantomimed dropping his pants and mooning the Green Bay crowd. It was a playful response to a tradition Packers fans have of mooning the opposing team’s bus as it pulls into the stadium. But, to Joe Buck, an announcer for the Fox Network’s broadcast of the game it was a “disgusting act” and another example of the villainy of Randy Moss.
The Vikings playoff run would end a week later with a 27-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and Moss’ time with the Vikings would end there as well…or so it would seem.
The Oakland years, Patriot rebirth, and career’s end.
One of the biggest myths about Randy Moss’ career was that he had two subpar years in Oakland. One of the others is that Moss wasn’t a tough player.
When he arrived in Oakland in 2005, Moss made an immediate impact with the Raiders. His speed and ability to go deep was perfectly matched to quarterback Kerry Collins’ strong arm.
Within the first month of the season Moss had put up 19 catches for 466 yards and two touchdowns. He had three games of more than 100 yards in the first four weeks and his lowest output was an 86-yard game against Philadelphia.
But, in week 5 against the San Diego Chargers, Moss went up to catch an underthrown pass from Collins and came down without the ball but in plenty of pain. He had injuries to his ribs, and pelvis from the collision with Charges safety Terrance Kiel, but the worst injury was to Moss’ groin. Moss was unable to finish the game and, for the first time in his pro career, was held without a catch.
Moss was back the very next week, however, and never missed a game in 2005. Over the final 11 weeks of the season, the lanky wide receiver managed 539 yards and 6 touchdowns. Playing most of the season with a pulled groin was a sign of Moss’ toughness. His 1,005 yards and 8 touchdowns should be looked at as anything but a down year.
In fact, the Raiders wouldn’t have another receiver put together a 1,000 yard season until Amari Cooper did it a decade later in 2015.
“People don’t realize how hurt he really was,” Kirk Morrison, a Raiders teammate, told the Mercury News when Moss signed with San Francisco in the twilight of his career. “He probably shouldn’t have been out there at least for a few weeks because he was never the same that year after that. But he never missed a game. I think if you asked 10 players about Randy Moss nine of them would tell you they loved the guy.”
Going 4-12 as a team in 2005 was bad. But, the 2006 Raiders were even worse. Collins, a former Pro Bowl quarterback, had moved on to Tennessee and the Oakland QB situation was a mess. The offensive line, however, was even worse.
Aaron Brooks, who had a few good seasons with the Saints in the early 2000s, was brought in to be the starter. In his first game for the Raiders Brooks was sacked nine times and he and Andrew Walter would split the season’s 16 games starting eight apiece as the Raiders searched for some kind offensive identity.
They never found it and the combined Walters and Brooks managed just 2,782 yards and only six touchdowns while the duo was sacked a total of 72 times in 16 games.
With numbers like those from the quarterback position, Moss was going to have a down year too. It proved to be the worst of his career to that point as he caught only 42 passes for 553 yards (both numbers led the team) and half of the Raiders’ passing touchdowns.
Moss was the star of the team and the biggest name on the Oakland roster and someone had to shoulder the blame for the poor offensive production, so of course the media pinned most of it on him.
“There was talk about Randy didn’t have it anymore or that he had quit on us,” Brooks told the Mercury News. “He still had it, those of us that saw him daily knew that. But, I don’t know, that year was a bad situation for everyone I think. I remember doing an interview with Tony Kornheiser on ‘Monday Night Football’ and all he wanted to talk about was Randy, Randy, Randy. The amount of attention he gets because of his talent and skills, it gets to a point where it leads people to judge him unfairly.”
2006 proved to be Brook’s last in the NFL while being Moss’ final season in Oakland before being traded to the New England Patriots the following offseason.
As Moss was on his way out, some of the Raiders coaches questioned what was left in his tank and Moss questioned Oakland’s staff and front office for what he saw as poor game planning. Alvis Whitted, a receiver on the Raiders in 2006, echoed Brooks statement in the same Mercury News story.
“It was no one’s fault in particular that year,” Whitted said of the 2006 season. “Everyone was frustrated, we were all unhappy about the direction of the team. But, a lot of it fell on his shoulders. But, the next year, when he went to New England you could tell what kind of competitor he is.”
In 2007, Moss, paired with an elite level quarterback for the first time in his pro career, used the Patriots to resurrect a career that many in the media were calling dead.
With Tom Brady throwing him passes deep, short, and over the middle, Moss showed he not only had plenty left in the tank but also was still the most dominant receiver in the league.
New England breezed through its competition en route to a 16-0 regular season and an NFL record for points scored in a year. Brady and Moss also ended the season with single season records for passing touchdowns and touchdown receptions, the latter Moss still holds.
Patriots’ teammates and coaches praised him for his ability, work ethic and football IQ with Bill Bilicheck calling him one of the smartest players he’s ever coached. Moss was nearly even a Super Bowl hero that year after catching the go ahead touchdown in Super Bowl XLII with just 2:42 left in the game.
But, the New York Giants made several unlikely plays on the ensuing possession including the famous David Tyree helmet catch and the Pats suffered their first loss of the year 17-14 on the biggest stage of the season.
Moss, for his part, had reestablished himself as the league’s best wide receiver and New England looked poised for another Super Bowl run in 2008.
However, Brady went down for the season with an ACL injury in week 1 and Matt Cassel would have to step in to play quarterback. The AFC East was a brutal division in 2008 with the Dolphins, Jets and Pats all finishing with winning records. Because of this, despite being 11-5, New England missed the playoffs.
Moss, on the other hand, had another great season catching 69 passes for more than 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2009, with Brady back, Moss’ numbers would increase to 83 catches for 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns.
2010 was a bizarre year for the now 34-year-old Moss. He was traded from New England back to Minnesota where he caught Brett Favre’s 500th career touchdown pass. But, it was still clear that while Moss still possessed skill, father time was finally starting to catch up to him. After a short return to the Vikings that ended with accusations that Moss verbally insulted a caterer and disagreements with head coach Brad Childress, he was traded again to the Tennessee Titans where he would finish the year and retire.
Moss did return to San Francisco after a year of retirement in 2012 and had a decent season serving as the 49ers third receiver option and mentoring the team’s young players.
“A lot had been made about Randy being a certain way, but he’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, that any of us have ever had,” fellow 49ers receiver Kyle Williams told the New York Times a few weeks before the Super Bowl in 2013. “The emergence of Michael Crabtree this year isn’t an accident. He’s learned a lot from Randy.”
Following the year, Moss officially retired from the NFL. This time it would be for good.
Media position, charitable acts, and the Randy Moss you don’t know.
These days Randy Moss can ironically be found on television working for ESPN as an NFL analyst. Moss is now part of the media that for decades he had such a sordid relationship with. Just don’t tell him that.
“I don’t like that term,” Moss said in a Sports Illustrated interview when he was first hired to be a broadcaster by Fox Sports. “I’m not part of the media. That’s not my label and I don’t want it to start now. I just love the game of football and this is a new way for me to be part of the game.”
His time with Fox and subsequently ESPN has done much to show America a more mature, upbeat, and friendly side of Moss. One that those closest to him always new existed but that he kept guarded from those he was unfamiliar with.
“Randy used to be a quiet person,” Aaron Ferguson, Moss’ former Marshall teammate said. “He didn’t really want to talk to people outside of his trusted circle. You’d never know this by the Randy we see today on ESPN, but he was a little shy when it came to being in front of the media. But, who could blame him when some media folks would spin everything he said to try and make him look like a bad guy.”
While Moss has made thousands of memorable headlines throughout his career, you rarely see the ones that discuss his acts of kindness and charity. But, there have been plenty of it. Through donations of time and money, Moss has impacted many lives throughout his home state of West Virginia and beyond.
He’s bussed kids from his hometown of Rand, West Virginia to NFL stadiums to watch him play. He started the Rewarding Excellence Program, which gives elementary and middle school students prizes like bicycles, gaming consoles and more for getting good grades. Moss and O.J. Mayo teamed up with Americans Feeding America to donate food and other household items to charities in Huntington, W.Va. in 2010.
More recently, Moss held a charity Spartan Race in West Virginia that raised money for the Spartan Foundation, a charity whose goal is to promote healthy lifestyles to children and young adults.
“I think it’s just really big for people to know how important health is,” Moss told the Register Herald in 2017. “So bringing it here to West Virginia was big for me. Hopefully people just come out here and support the cause and the kids. I’ve always held my standards up very high when dealing with the kids. Anybody that knows me knows that I’m always a 100 percent thumb up for the kids. That’s what it’s all about.”
That just barely scratches the surface of the good deeds Moss has done. There are many others that he does that many people will never hear about and that’s the way Moss likes it.
“I don’t do charity for the kids to get a pat on the back from the media,” Moss said in an interview on Fox in 2012. “I do it because I love the kids. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for kids and so there are a lot of things I kind of do on the down low so that it doesn’t take away from the kids. Because as soon as they find out that Randy Moss is involved it’s not about the kids no more it’s about me and I don’t want that.”
Moss’ soft spot was never more evident than it was in 2015 when he attended the high school graduation of Kassi Spier.
Spier and Moss met at a Minnesota training camp practice in 1998 when Moss was a rookie with the Vikings and Spier was just two years old. Two years later, Spier was diagnosed with Leukemia and, in 2004, she lost her father in a car accident.
Through it all, Spier and Moss’ friendship grew. She could often be seen with Moss at team lunches during training camp throughout his years in Minnesota. He would hold the young girl’s hand as they crossed the street from the team’s practice facility to the cafeteria at Minnesota State – Mankato.
In 2004, Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpeper told the Pioneer Press a newspaper in St. Paul, Minnesota “Randy loves that girl to death. They’ve just got this connection and I think it’s beautiful.”
ESPN wanted to do a story about Moss’ friendship with Spier that same year but Moss didn’t give the company’s magazine reporters much.
“I know how she feels about me and I know how I feel about her,” Moss told ESPN The Magazine. “Our relationship is not important to anybody but us.”
Vikings coach Mike Tice however was a little more open with the media about the relationship between his star player and Spier.
“Randy wants everyone to think he’s a tough guy,” Tice said. “But, his relationship with that little girl is really something. It’s typical Randy. He’s great with kids. He doesn’t trust authority and he doesn’t trust adults because he thinks they all want something from him. And you know what? He’s not far off.”
Moss told the younger Spier as she battled her illness that he’d be there the day she walked across the stage as a high school graduate. When Moss left Minnesota in 2004 he stayed in touch with Spier and would occasionally meet up with her for a lunch here and there to check in on her.
In 2013, Spier’s illness got worse and she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but she survived that and made it to her graduation day in 2015. Moss made it too, fulfilling a promise that he made to her more than a decade ago.
“That’s the real Randy Moss,” Tim Yotter a reporter for Vikings Update said. “He was so guarded and didn’t always let the general public see who he really was. He wasn’t seeking the spotlight. For most of his life, the spotlight has been wherever he walks. The press constantly dogged him; he saw the media as an occupational hazard. When he did charitable work, he did it on the low-low. He didn’t want people acknowledging it. It was personal to him.”
Back in Huntington, some still get hung up on Moss once declaring his college as “Rand University” while starting lineups were being announced no matter how many times it’s been explained that Moss meant it as a tongue and cheek shout out to his home town. But, under the cover of secrecy he still stays connected to Marshall and the football program.
“I came in to see Coach Pruett several times,” Moss said in 2006. “I came in and saw coach Snyder a couple of months ago, but I try to be low-key and give back to the people and places I appreciate.”
This past season, Moss gave Marshall various acknowledgements on his twitter page and directly contacted the football team to congratulate them on their victory in the New Mexico Bowl. His former teammate Ferguson knows how much those from Marshall mean to Moss and how much Moss means to them.
“Very little is talked about all the good things he does,” Ferguson said. “He does a lot for the area and to help the children of the state. He should be a first ballot hall of famer and I along with many other members of our Marshall teams will be attending his induction. We love Randy and he loves us.”
There are those, though, that disagree with Ferguson and some voters have openly discussed their belief that Moss must pay for his perceived off field transgressions by being forced to wait for his moment of induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
To those, I ask this: haven’t the deeds of the man far and long outweighed the sins of the boy? Moss had his punishments, he lost scholarships, he served time behind bars, he plummeted in the draft, he was fined by the league and he had his name smeared a thousand times over.
Let the punishments end and celebrate the man’s career the way it deserves to be celebrated, in the hall of fame among the best of the best, immortalized in bronze.