EAGAN, Minn. — When Randy Moss gets inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night, he'll be joined by scores of family and friends who saw a kid from West Virginia grow into one of the most successful wide receivers in NFL history.
Others who impacted Moss' professional career will be on hand, too, including one of the most beloved members of the Vikings organization, Geji McKinney-Banks.
McKinney-Banks is the team's Director of Food Service and Operations and has been with the Vikings since 1994, four years before Moss was selected with the 21st overall pick.
Moss made sure McKinney-Banks was on the attendance list for his big night in Canton, Ohio.
"Randy personally invited me … he wanted me there," McKinney-Banks said. "This is a first-time opportunity and maybe my last. I'm going to take this opportunity.
"It's just a blessing," McKinney-Banks added. "But I was surprised. I was surprised and I was honored."
While McKinney-Banks may have been caught off guard by Moss' kind gesture, she wasn't surprised that he has landed in Canton.
Moss ranks second all-time with 156 career receiving touchdowns, 92 of which came in Purple. He also ranks fourth in league history with 15,292 receiving yards.
"I knew it was coming," McKinney-Banks said. "It was just a matter of time."
McKinney-Banks and Moss hit it off soon after former Vikings Head Coach Dennis Green introduced them in the Winter Park cafeteria.
"We kind of grew up together," McKinney-Banks said. "I was young, and Randy was a friend and he was really cool. I took [lessons learned from Randy] with me all through my life."
McKinney-Banks said she heard rumblings about the perception of Moss before he was drafted. But she found none of that to be true as he tore up the NFL from 1998 to 2004 in his first stint in Minnesota.
"I develop a lot of good relationships with the guys in the café. Just talking … you develop a lot of good relationships," McKinney-Banks said. "He happened to be one of those. We connected with age and [share] a lot of things in common.
"I like how he quietly gave back to children. He didn't let everybody know he was doing that, but he did it and he did it quietly. Everybody didn't have to know about it," McKinney-Banks added. "I remember, I think it was the Boys & Girls Clubs, he gave all these kids bicycles. The news didn't know anything about it."
Not that Moss wasn't afraid to speak his mind. McKinney-Banks recalled a story where she had made tuna salad, and Moss swore it was missing some ingredients. The wide receiver promptly went into the kitchen and made his own version of it.
"He had a little extra to him, but that was Randy," McKinney-Banks said. "It didn't bother me, and he always treated me with respect and kindness."
During a recent chat at the beginning of training camp, McKinney-Banks recalled fond memories of playing spades with Moss and Daunte Culpepper at the quarterback's house during Thanksgivings.
"We had a good time," McKinney-Banks said. "It was like family."
Or the time she and Moss got into a debate in the early 2000s about wide receivers in the NFL who were destined for the Hall of Fame."Now, here we are, and he's going there," McKinney-Banks, who had Moss on her list, said with a laugh.
Moss and McKinney-Banks last connected in June of 2017 when the wide receiver was surprised with the announcement at Winter Park that he would be inducted to the Vikings Ring of Honor.
The two caught up, with McKinney-Banks noticing Moss' maturity — and his penchant for grilled chicken wings.
"That was awesome. Oh boy, how he grew up. I just saw that right away. We had great conversation," McKinney-Banks said of Moss' visit. "He told me that he hadn't had good chicken wings in a while. I think it was 'Chicken Wing Thursday,' so I said, 'I got you.'
"I cooked him up some special wings. He yelled [across the room], 'Geji! This is it!' He loved them," McKinney-Banks added. "That was the last time I saw him. We said we were going to get a picture together, and then something happened. I still have to get that picture."
There couldn't be a better place for that than Canton.