|No matter what you thought of him, Randy Moss was certainly never boring||08.01.11 at 4:34 pm ET|
Love him or hate him, you always had to pay attention to Randy Moss.
With the news the wide receiver has decided to retire after a 13-year NFL career, the image of Moss that remains is an athlete who commanded the spotlight like few others. On the field, he always had to be accounted for, a monster offensive threat who was instantly ticketed for Canton even before he set foot in New England in 2007. A freakish big-play receiver with breathtaking speed, he ranks second all-time with 153 touchdowns, fifth with 14,858 receiving yards and eighth with 954 receptions over the course of a 13-year career.
After stops in Minnesota and Oakland, he joined the Patriots in April 2007, where he and Tom Brady became the football equivalent of Lennon and McCartney, putting together the best combo for a quarterback and wide receiver in league history and sending sportswriters looking for more adjectives. That year, there were moments of real brilliance between the two, as the quarterback won the MVP and had 4,806 passing yards and 50 touchdowns, with Moss accounting for 1,493 receiving yards and 23 touchdown catches. (In three-plus years in New England, he had 3,904 yards and 50 touchdown receptions.)
However, when it came to Moss, it was always complicated. He talked about loving the Patriots, but a bizarre postgame monologue about his contract situation after the 2010 season opener signaled the beginning of the end of his time in New England. His teammates loved him, but nagging incidents like LateGate and an in-game clash with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien left some wondering how deep that commitment to the team really was. In all, there was more than enough sophomoric stuff over the course of his career — mock-mooning the crowd in Green Bay, nudging a traffic cop with his car, more than a few incidents of loafing, squirting water at a referee, “Straight cash, homey” and declaring that he would “play when I want to play” — to keep people talking.
That was true not only for opposing defenses and fans, but for us in the media as well. In New England, the receiver was lockered next to Brady, and as a reporter, even though there were days Moss was clearly not speaking; you always had to stay in the neighborhood just in case the mood struck him. When he did — and he started by informing the media on almost every occasion “Y’all got three [questions]” — he was almost always insightful and interesting.
On the occasion of his retirement, Moss is on the short list with Jerry Rice as one of the greatest receivers of all time, and his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is all but assured. And as was the case when he was a player, if/when he stands up to make his speech while wearing that trademark yellow blazer, we will all be paying attention.
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