Vikings Owner Mark Wilf
Good afternoon everyone, on behalf of the Vikings ownership group and our entire organization, it is my privilege to introduce two of the greatest Minnesota Vikings of all-time, Randy Moss and Ahmad Rashad. Today, we announced that Randy Moss and Ahmad will be inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor during the 2017 season. First, a couple of words about Randy. Not only was Randy Moss a great Viking player, but, he continues to be hugely popular with Vikings fans and NFL fans throughout the United States and the world. Randy holds a number of NFL records, including most touchdown catches in a season and is second in NFL history with 156 [receiving] touchdowns. During his time with the Vikings, Randy was also very active in our community and he made a real difference in the lives of a lot of kids and families in Minnesota. We are grateful for that as well. Following Randy, you will hear from Ahmad Rashad. Ahmad is another of the all-time greatest Vikings. Ahmad is just coming off ankle surgery but we are excited that he was able to be here today. Ahmad Rashad is top-ten in Vikings history in both receiving yards and touchdowns. He also holds the team-record of four touchdowns in a single-game. Ahmad is also charismatic, fan favorite and has stayed engaged and involved with the Vikings. So without further ado, the soon to be newest members of the Vikings Ring of Honor, Randy Moss followed by Ahmad Rashad. Thank you.
Vikings Ring of Honor Inductee Randy Moss
Well, I'm kind of speechless. First of all, I just want to give honor to God and being able to bless me to play this sport for such a long time. I've always said this, that if you're getting some type of mention, an award or something positive, for what you've accomplished, that means you did something right in life. Like I said, I'm definitely thankful. I love this game and I played, definitely, with a chip on my shoulder throughout my career. Some people I rubbed wrong, some people loved it. So, to the people that I rubbed wrong, man, that's just what I love to do. The game of football, I grew up loving it, I've been playing it since I was six-years old. The year that I mooned Green Bay was the first year I actually took off. It took me 28 years to take a season or a game off. So, I think that when I tell you that I wore the game of football on my shoulder, I really wore it on my shoulder, man. I didn't really give myself any breaks, no time off. So, with all that said, you know how I start this thing off, I've got my man Sid Hartman over here. He came out to see me today, so Sid, I think it would be right for you to start this thing off like we normally do it. What've you got for me buddy?
Q: Thank you, Randy Moss was one of my favorite players, no doubt about it. He made a statement, 'I play when I wanna play.' I wrote it and all the media kept on going to him and saying, 'You didn't say that!' He said, 'I said it and he wrote the right story.'
A: Well, he was just talking about, 'I play when I wanna play.' I think that was just mixed up, Sid, over the years. I think that as you mature, you grow and I think that I really should have spoke about it, what I really meant. That's in the past. Like I said, man, I love the game so much and I sacrificed so much. I really, honestly, think I got traded out of here because I only cared about the game of football. I know that really seems weird and sounds weird but I didn't really do anything outside of the game of football. I didn't go anywhere. I didn't like to mingle a lot. I only cared about football, man. I think that was probably, maybe one of my worst attributes of really trying to branch off outside of the game of football. But, hey, that's all I knew, that's what I grew up believing, man. Like I said, still to this day, I still carry that same chip. So, I love the game.
Q: What does it mean to you that you left, you came back, and you left again. That no matter what happens, there's always a relationship and a love between you and the organization?
A: Well, I think the love for me is being drafted here. Being able to give these people the entertainment that they paid for, that they sit down and watch. I think a big thank you is really to the Wilf family. I think from the time that they became owners, they made promises to the organization, they made promises to the fans, including the players, to the state of Minnesota, about the things that they were going to do here. They wanted a new stadium, a new facility, they're bringing old retired players back to be a part of something. Not every organization does that. I think when you have an ownership like that, that really cares about the organization, they're not in it just for the money, I can really see that. So, for me being able to go up in this Ring of Honor, man, the Wilf's helped me get there. I'm glad they're owners of this team, because they made a lot of great strides for this team to be where they are.
Q: Do you wish you had been able to play your entire career with the Vikings?
A: Yes, I do. Because I think now I know, I think I have a better understanding of being able to be drafted here, spend 14 years here, that would've been great, that would've been phenomenal. It didn't take me long to really understand the business side of professional football. So, I think that sometimes my passion for the game got in the way of the business side of it. Like I said, you live and you learn, you mature. I think I lived and learned from a lot of my mistakes. I think they were my own personal mistakes, nothing crazy. I'm not pointing the finger or blaming anyone. But, I think it's just more of growing up, I'm married now, I'm happily married. I've got my family, we're straight. So, now I can just reflect back on the touchdowns, the games against the Green Bay Packers, the games against the Chicago Bears. All that stuff, man, was great for me. But like I said, all the memories that I have – good and bad – I won't trade them for nothing.
Q: What is your favorite memory as a Viking?
A: I think my favorite Viking memory has to be the Monday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers. 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. 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.
Q: When you got traded, would you have thought that you'd be in this position?
A: Like I say, it's a shaky business. I didn't know. I got traded the first time, released the second time. Let bygones be bygones. But, I think a lot of the fans, a lot of the people that really sit down every single Sunday and wait for their team to come on, really don't understand the magnitude of the business side of the National Football League. I think once you fall in love with an individual, they may be gone the next day. I think that sometimes that can emotionally scar a person. I just think for me, man, it's just I've lived and learned from a lot of my mistakes, man. One thing that I definitely take heart and that I've always cared about is just being good to others and also leading the youth to bring them up and to lead them down the right path.
Q: Do you think you should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and how special would it be to be named to the Hall of Fame when the Super Bowl is in Minnesota?
A: I think it would be special. Minnesota's hosting the Super Bowl here, new stadium. For me to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, I think it would be special. For me to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, one thing that I've said throughout my whole career, man, I just love playing the game. Any accolades, any accomplishments, records that I was able to break, any team goals or team records that we were able to break, that's what happens when you're able to focus and put all 11 guys together at the same time. So, for me to consider myself a first-ball Hall of Famer, I mean the love that I get out there in the streets, the love that I get from my peers, the love that I get from coaches past and present. Yeah, I hold my hat on first-ballot, I really do.
Q: What was the strongest emotion you felt when you found out you were going into the Ring of Honor?
A: I think mine was just not knowing what to expect. I was coming up here for a business meeting to try to do some business throughout the week of the Super Bowl, myself with the Minnesota Vikings. I had no idea that I was going into the Ring of Honor. So, I was actually speechless. I walked down the hallway, I'm looking at [Mick] Tinglehoff, I'm looking at [Cris] Carter, I'm looking at [Chris] Doleman. Now, my friend [Ahmad Rashad], we're getting ready to be in that hallway, ya hear me? It's just a lot of guys, I know my history, I know my players, to be able to see them. So, when I come out of that meeting, I didn't see my jersey on that wall. So when I come out, I said, 'Hold up, wait a minute? Did y'all just put this up here?' So, it was actually, like I say man, it was definitely humbling and I'm speechless. I'm stuck for words, I really don't know what to say, man. The one thing that I will tell you, man, the love, the passion that I put into this game. To some, it might have been arrogance. But to me, man I was just focused, tunnel vision, man. Because I always wanted to play the game of football. Something I grew up loving to do as a kid. Some people like to play with their cars, some girls like to play with doll babies. Ever since I was six-years old, man, I loved the game of football. That's what drove me to where I'm at today.
Q: How cool is it to come back and reconnect with guys like Andre Patterson and Dennis Ryan?
A: That's what's special about it. I was telling Coach Patterson and telling Dennis Ryan. Being able to have that blessing, to go into the Ring of Honor, to be able to hopefully be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for a lot of people. There's no individual in life successful to make it where they are by themselves. Dennis Ryan doesn't get a lot of notoriety and a lot recognition. But without Dennis Ryan, Aaron Neumann and their staff? These guys are not putting on, screwing on cleats and getting your shoes tied and something popping off your helmet or your shoulder pads and stuff like that. I still keep in contact with Dennis Ryan and Aaron Neumann. Coach Patterson, I've seen him go from team-to-team, now he's back here. I told him, man, you're one of the best D-line coaches in the league. He was here when I got here, he coached John Randle, he's coached some greats. So for me to still be here coming around. I saw Everson Griffen, he said, 'Hey man, I was here when you were here and I'm still here!' So, it's a brotherhood, it really is. For me to be able, now an analyst on ESPN, to get to go to the Monday Night venue, look on the field, I still love to see the game. I can't physically play it anymore but just being able to love the guys. Seeing the guys that I coached with, coached against, played with or played against, it's still great to be able to see them go out there and perform.
Q: What would you say to Dennis Green if he were here today?
A: Shhhhhh, man, I don't know, man. [long pause, collects emotions] I don't know. I was six-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. 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. There was a lot of teams out there that passed on me for wrong reasons. Coach Green gave me that opportunity. So, when all of y'all Vikings fans are sitting up here going back in the past, remembering the teams that I played on, the teams that Ahmad played on, the teams that Coach Green coached. Man, however you feel about me, you can feel. But if you feel a good way about me, Coach Green brought me here. Whatever talents I was able to showcase, he helped me do that. Just fall in his arms and give him a big hug, man. That's my man. You see how emotional I am about him, I'm very thankful to be able to cross paths with Coach Green. Last question.
Q: How long ago did you get married?
A: Four [years]. Is that going to be your last question? Somebody give me a better question than that. Four years, I'm happily married, I love my wife. We're a happy family now but give me something football.
Q: What was your message for the team?
A: I think mine was just more of, what you've done to get here is not what's going to keep you here. What's going to keep you here is being able to listen to the veterans knowing that now football is now, full circle all year round. So, I think for me to be able to give some advice to the young guys is, 'whatever got you here is not going to keep you here, you need to do a little bit more.' Alright, thank you guys.
*Vikings Ring of Honor Inductee Ahmad Rashad *
Q: How do you feel about Coach Bud Grant taking a chance on you?
A: Bud Grant was one of the most wonderful people that has come through my life of anybody. He was just a wonderful, wonderful man. He was all about football, but he was also about life. Bud was a guy that could prepare as hard as he could, go out and play the game as hard as he could and then go home and have dinner. Nothing got Bud that excited and you found yourself trying to do things to make him excited. I remember I could make a touchdown and I could walk by him and Bud would say silly things like, "I could've done that. I just don't have the right shoes on." You know, just things you would never expect to come out of Bud's mouth. There was a time when we were in a preseason game and all of our receivers have gotten hurt. Bud just kind of looked at me and goes, "Well, it's either you or me. But, I don't have my helmet." Just weird. You'd never imagine him saying certain things like that. When I think back about playing for the Minnesota Vikings, that seven or eight year period was probably one of the most important periods of my life. And having been here in Minnesota, I fell in love with this place. I fell in love with the people. I fell in love with the Vikings. It was this certain pride. We had [Jim] Marshall, [Alan] Page, [Carl] Eller, [Fran] Tarkenton. We had household names and you must understand that the Minnesota Vikings is one of the premier teams in all of football. There's only four or five teams and the Vikings are one of them and to watch the way that they have evolved since I was here. When I watched the Wilf's take over and they took that organization from here to way up here. All of the things they promised that they would do, they did. It's a very proud organization and normally organizations start at the top, they don't start at the bottom. If you've got a great organization at the top, then you're going to have a great organization. I would have to say that this is one of the great ownerships in all of sports and it's just a great thing for all Minnesota people that are involved.
Q: What is your strongest emotion about being named to the Ring of Honor?
A: It is probably the biggest thing that's ever happened to me. It's the most important thing to ever happen to me and I've won Emmy awards, I've won receiving titles, I've won all those kinds of things, but this is closer to my heart. I always say that, "Once a Viking, always a Viking." You don't ever get out of that and this ownership has shown that it is a wonderful fraternity and that we respect everybody. We really are the north and we take that with pride, so looking at this. I don't think anything else in my athletic career could top winning this honor. There's absolutely nothing else and to go in with Randy Moss is just absolutely wonderful. I've always been a big fan of his and sometimes to start to see that you're getting old when Randy tells me he watched me play when he was six. I was only twelve, but it's just funny to see that sort of thing and it's a wonderful feeling. It's great for all of the Minnesota people involved.
Q: When you retired did you ever think about being named to the Vikings Ring of Honor?
A: I'm a firm believer that you do your work and whatever happens, happens. You can't sit around and tell people how good you were, how bad you were or whatever it is. You do what you do and let other people make that decision. I hoping that one day I would make it. It was so weird too. I came up here to have an ankle operation on Friday and no idea that any of this stuff was going on. Until I get a call from Mark [Wilf] saying, "What are you doing? Can you come by for an hour?" I said, "Yeah, I guess I could probably come by for an hour. So, it was one of the biggest honors that I've ever had in my entire life.
Q: What was your message to the team?
A: My message is more so that these are things that you can never forget. You don't ever forget your football career and it's almost like high school. When you think about high school you think about all the guys that you knew on the high school team. Well, if you're fortunate enough, it moves on to college and you think about all the things that you've learned from people and all of the people that you've sort of learned lessons of life in college. If you're really, really lucky and get to do it for a living, that never goes anywhere. When I see Scott Studwell, who is like my brother. When we played so hard together. So, it's more a chance to one day drive down the street and have that memory pass through your mind and just have a big 'ole smile come across your face and go, "You know, that was really one of the most wonderful times in my life." That's pretty much what it was. Even standing here I remember down there on the corner Bud Grant used to put deer licks down there. I don't know what he was doing. Practice was over there, but he was always down there by those deer licks. So, one of my little tricks to get out of practice I would go down there and talk to him about the deer licks for like 40 minutes and he'd be okay with it. Not a big deal, but it's just that he was a very, very different guy. A leader of men. He knew how to lead men. He treated everybody differently, everybody was not the same. Whatever you needed, you got that from him. His sidekick was Sid [Hartman]. Sid was one of a kind and still is one of a kind.
Q: Does the brotherhood mean more to you the older you get?
A: To see Carl Eller, to see Alan Page, to see Mick Tingelhoff, to see Fran Tarkenton there's no warmer feeling than that. There just isn't any. To have fought those wars together, to have those games against the [Green Bay] Packers that meant everything in the world to us, to have those games against the Chicago Bears that meant more than anything else to us, to have been able to go to training camp and come together as a team. I don't think people understand what you go through in a training camp because it doesn't happen in any other place in life where you start hating it the first couple of days, but as you start to come together as a team there's a wonderful feeling that brings you together. You all start to play for one another. You're not playing for yourself. You're playing for the rest of the guys on the team. This is the sort of city or state that they all come together. I remember Jerry Burns used to always tell us, "You've got to have good practices down there in Mankato because we had those dirt farmers out in Iowa that came up to watch practice every day. And we owed it to them to practice well because they were there." He said that jokingly, but he meant it. He absolutely meant it.
Q: Is there anything else in your career that tops your Hail Mary catch in 1980?
A: The Hail Mary pass was fun. The thing that people don't understand about things like that is we all expected it. It wasn't a surprise. We knew when the game started to change that we were going to win the game. Whatever happened it was going to happen, but we were going to win the game. So, it wasn't like, "Oh yeah, surprise. I caught the ball." I knew I was going to catch the ball. I knew we were going to win the thing. It was just one of those kinds of things that added on to the legend of the north. That's just the way it is. If you're not from the north, then you don't even understand what I'm saying when I say, "We Are The North." But, we that are from the north we understand that. How about the stadium? That stadium is one of the most beautiful stadiums I've seen in my entire life and it's fitting that it's here in Minneapolis.
Q: Are you going to come to the Super Bowl?
A: Am I coming to the Super Bowl? Here's my goal, is that we use our own locker room for the Super Bowl. That's the goal and that's a hell of a goal. I mean, we're playing in our spot, why shouldn't we use our locker room, I think that's something that guys got to get. You're not making it up, we're not that far away, and it can happen. Hopefully guys get involved like that and it'll be the first time in the history of the NFL that for the Super Bowl we use our own locker room.