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Drafting of Randy Moss Changed NFL Landscape 20 Years Ago

Posted Apr 18, 2018

Twenty years ago today, the Vikings got Mossed.

Minnesota capitalized on the Heisman finalist falling to the 21st overall pick and drafted the receiver out of Marshall.

Moss participated in an on-camera interview with ESPN’s Linda Cohn moments after his selection (see video above).

The late Dennis Green believed Moss would make a major impact for the Vikings and was right.

The lanky and speedy receiver with tremendous ability to track the deep ball and explosiveness after short passes totaled 69 receptions and 1,313 yards in his debut campaign. He also set an NFL rookie record with 17 touchdown receptions, the first of five different seasons in which he led the NFL in receiving touchdowns.

Vikings.com asked Green about drafting Moss in 2015, and in classic Green fashion, the coach said, “Well, I think I’d say Randy is who we thought he was.”

“The guy could really run and make plays,” Green said. “We were convinced, a lot of people weren’t, but we were convinced his off-the-field incidents when he was younger were part of being young, but his love of the game would keep him from committing the same type of mistakes later, because if you make those mistakes, you can’t play, and Randy really wanted to play, and we were right about that.

“He loved to play the game and play the game with a lot of enthusiasm, and it’s why he went on to be so successful, because his behavior was a thing of the past and he was all about the future,” Green added.

Moss joined Cris Carter and Jake Reed to form “Three Deep,” powering the Vikings offense to 556 points to break an NFL record that has since been topped.

“Randy and the deep ball revitalized the game of football, with his ability to, you’d put it up there and he’d go down and get it,” Green said. “Now, they have a lot of guys that can do that, but in that day, it was kind of a new deal.”

Vikings Legend Jerry Reichow, a Pro Bowl receiver on the original Vikings who later transitioned to the personnel department, also recalled the drafting of Moss.

“Well, first of all, he was talented, wow. He was talented but had a little baggage,” Reichow said. “The year before there was a great player that Denny didn’t want any parts of. He had some baggage, too.

“The year Randy came out, we kind of figured, ‘Well we aren’t going to have him, but Denny said, ‘I want him. I can handle him,’ Reichow recalled. ‘Really?’ So we drafted Randy, and he was the most talented receiver I’ve ever seen, including Jerry Rice.”

Moss was inducted to the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2017 and to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February. He will be enshrined in Canton this August as a first-ballot entrant, which is a rarity for receivers.

Last summer, when Moss was surprised with his induction to the Ring of Honor, he credited his love for the game and relationship with Green for being major factors in his success.

When trying to explain the importance of Green, who passed away in July 2016, Moss became emotional. He picked up a digital recorder and tapped it against the podium.

“Man, I don’t know, man. I don’t know,” Moss said. “I was 6-years old playing this game. On draft day, I really don’t know why I was treated the way I was treated on draft day. But, Coach Green gave me an opportunity, man. I told him, ‘Coach, you’re not going to regret this.’

“So, you ask me what I would say to him? Man, I’d probably just fall in his arms and give him a hug. Man, it’s no words that I could tell him,” Moss said. “The man passed away without me really, really giving him my love and thanks for what he was able to do for me and my family, man.”

Moss credited Green with helping showcase his talents and said the second-winningest coach in Vikings history uniquely contributed to his favorite memory as a member of the Vikings before a Monday Night Football game against the Packers.

The memorable moment occurred before Moss caught five passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns in his first game at Lambeau Field.

“Coach Green is up here at a podium kind of like this, if any of you knew Coach Green he could play the drums, he knew rhythm very good,” Moss said. “So he’s up here playing a beat on the podium, so we never knew why he was playing that beat. So, when he starts playing the beat, he was basically telling Randall Cunningham, Randall McDaniel, the offense, Cris Carter and them, ‘This is the rhythm that we’re going to have to play to the whole night in order for us to be successful.’

“The rest is history.”