Randy Moss will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in early August in his first year of eligibility. He is a four-time All-Pro selection, a six time Pro Bowl selection and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1998 and to the 2000s All-Decade team. He is considered by many to be among the greatest deep threat receivers in NFL history.
Moss had 10 seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards and nine seasons with at least 10 touchdown catches. In 2007, he set the NFL single-season record for touchdown receptions with 23. He retired after 14 seasons and is now ranked second all-time in receiving touchdowns (156) and fourth in receiving yardage (15,292).
Here are five of the top moments of Moss’ career:
Welcome to the NFL. Moss introduced himself to the NFL with a bang. In his first game he torched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 31-7 Vikings’ rout. In the first quarter he made a juggling, 48-yard touchdown catch over Tampa defensive back Floyd Young for the first of what would become a rookie record 17 receiving touchdowns that season. Moss bobbled the ball three times before securing it. By the end of the day, Moss would score twice on four receptions good for 95 yards. It was a strong debut but really only a warning shot of what was to come.
Monday night is his stage. In the fifth game of his rookie season, Moss made his first appearance on Monday Night Football a memorable one. Facing the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, Moss caught five passes and carried them for 190 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a stunning 38 yards per catch! Moss lacerated Green Bay’s secondary for touchdown receptions of 44 and 52 yards and had two other catches for 41 and 46 yards. But it could have been even more because he had a 75-yard touchdown reception called back when one of his linemen was flagged for holding.
You can’t win them all. By his third season, Randy Moss was the most feared deep threat in football and the Vikings had become one of the most potent passing games in NFL history. They featured two future Hall of Fame wide receivers in Moss and Cris Carter and used their skills and a powerful passing game to reach the NFL Divisional playoff game with the high-flying St. Louis Rams. A shootout was expected and it’s what NFL fans got. Moss was phenomenal that day, with nine receptions for 188 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 20.89 yards a catch but it was not enough as the Vikings fell to the Rams, 49-37. In this game, Moss had one of what would become a number of run-ins with the establishment when he was caught squirting a water bottle at the referee. He was fined $40,000 but it was reduced to $25,000 with the caveat that any more problems with officials and he would have to write another check.
No turkey on Thanksgiving. For the third time in four years, Moss destroyed the Dallas Cowboys and this time he did it on one of the biggest stages of the regular season – Thanksgiving Day in Dallas. Moss had seven receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns and one of those scores was so spectacular it was used for several years thereafter in television ads for NFL games. On that catch, Moss laid out for a ball that appeared to be thrown out of bounds, catching it for a second half touchdown in which every part of his body except his toes were out of bounds. He looked like Elastic Man and that was fitting because you needed some super powers to do what he did on that play.
He’s back! After wearing out his welcome in Minnesota after seven incredibly productive but sometimes controversial seasons, Randy Moss was shipped off to the Oakland Raiders. He started well but his second season was a disappointment and he was traded to the New England Patriots prior to the 2007 season. No entering his 10th season, some felt Moss was shot. He wasted no time proving those critics wrong. In the season opener against the New York Jets, Moss and Tom Brady showed they were compatible. Moss caught all nine passes Brady sent his way for 181 yards and a 51-yard touchdown in touchdown during which he ran through three floundering Jets’ defenders. By season’s end, Moss would set the single-season record for touchdown receptions with 23, scoring nearly 25% of the time he made one of his 98 receptions as the Patriots set the single season scoring record of 589 points. It has since been eclipsed by the 2013 Denver Broncos, who scored 606 points.