How much of an impact did Randy Moss have on the next generation of NFL receivers? Davante Adams made that clear inin which he tabbed Moss as the greatest receiver in NFL history. While saying anything other than Jerry Rice would have been previously considered blasphemous, Moss certainly has more than a few supporters in the greatest receiver of all-time debate.
If you’re under 35, Moss is certainly the greatest receiver you’ve seen in person. His incredible athleticism and gift of grab made him not only an extremely productive receiver, but also one of the most electric and exciting players of all time. His colorful personality only added to his immense popularity.
In honor of his 47th birthday (he was born on Feb. 13, 1977), here are five fast facts about Moss.
Unexpected Heisman push
Moss initially signed a letter of intent to play for Notre Dame before being redshirted at Florida State for his freshman year of college. Moss never played for the Seminoles, though, after he transferred to Marshall, where he could play right away because of the fact that Marshall was a Div. 1-AA school at the time.
Largely an unknown at the time, Moss quickly became a household name after dominating the competition at Marshall. Moss set several Div. 1-AA records that year including the record for most receiving yards in a season (1,709), a record that still stands. Moss also tied Rice’s Div. 1-AA record for 28 touchdown catches in a season.
Marshall won the national title that season and moved up to Div. 1-A for the 1997 season. Moss continued to breeze through the competition despite the jump. Including Marshall’s bowl game, Moss finished the ’97 season with 96 catches for 1,820 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Moss’ incredible ’97 season led to him being a Heisman Trophy finalist. He ultimately finished fourth behind Ryan Leaf, Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson.
Historic rookie season
Despite his success at Marshall, Moss wasn’t chosen until the Vikings gladly selected him with the 21st overall pick in the 1998 draft. Moss took note on each team that passed on him, especially the Cowboys, who allegedly told him that they would be taking him with the eighth overall pick (they instead picked DE Greg Ellis).
Moss quickly made the majority of the teams who passed on him regret their decision. He had four catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns in his first regular-season game. That served as the foreshadowing for what would be a historic rookie season that saw Moss catch a rookie-record 17 touchdown passes.
The Offensive Rookie of the Year, one of Moss’ most memorable games that season took place against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. He only caught three passes, but each of them resulted in touchdown as the Vikings recorded a 46-36 win.
Moss also terrorized the rival Packers that season. In two games against Green Bay, Moss caught a combined 13 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns. The Vikings won both games en route to a 15-1 regular season.
After two seasons with the Raiders, Moss returned to his dominant self after he joined the Patriots in 2007. It was the perfect marriage of receiver in quarterback, as Moss and Tom Brady enjoyed a near perfect partnership.
That season, Moss caught an NFL-record 23 touchdown passes, while Brady threw a then-single-season record 50 touchdowns. The success of both helped the Patriots record the NFL’s only perfect regular season during the 16-week format.
Moss caught a go-ahead touchdown late in Super Bowl XLII, but New England came up just short of a perfect season when Eli Manning engineered the game-winning drive in one of the most dramatic Super Bowls ever.
Moss retired after the 2010 season but came out of retirement to play one last season with the 49ers in 2012. He averaged 15.5 yards per catch that season and started in each of the 49ers’ three playoff games. Moss’ final NFL game was Super Bowl LVII; he caught two passes for 41 yards in San Francisco’s 34-31 loss to Baltimore.
Moss was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018. He is just one of seven receivers who have been inducted during their first year of eligibility. The other six are Rice, Steve Largent, Paul Warfield, Lance Alworth, Raymond Berry and Calvin Johnson.