Randy Gene Moss was one of a kind. Is one of a kind.
From his unmistakable West Virginia accent to his rare combination of size, speed and smarts to his frankness and sometimes enigmatic behavior, there hasn’t been another NFL star like him.
On Saturday, Moss will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his incredible career celebrated along with the other members of the class of 2018.
In appreciation, we’ve put together our Top 10 moments from Moss’ career.
10. His one career interception
In addition to his 982 career catches, 15,292 receiving yards and 156 touchdowns, Moss also had 18 punt returns (all but one in 1999) and 25 carries. But did you know Moss also had an interception? It’s true. When he was with the Patriots, Bill Belichick would put Moss on defense during Hail Marys, and in a 2009 game against the Denver Broncos, Kyle Orton threw up a deep ball for Brandon Marshall at the end of the first half. The ball was just short of the end zone, and Moss caught it for his only career INT.
9. His glorious Afro
A great Afro is a thing of beauty. It takes confidence to rock a huge Afro, and Moss never lacked for confidence. Once he let his hair grow, he often wore it in cornrows, but he wasn’t afraid to let his hair be free. You can still buy Moss masks with an Afro, and during the 2010 season, a Patriots fan in the home stands wearing one of those masks got to play a little back-and-forth with the receiver.
8. Four-touchdown game vs. Buffalo
Week 11, 2007, Sunday night football, Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills weren’t horrible that season – they came into the night 5-5 – but they weren’t ready for Moss and the Patriots. New England romped, 56-10, with Moss pulling in a career-high four touchdowns, three of them in the second quarter. It was an incredible performance in a season full of them.
7. Moon over Lambeau
Moss could have success against any team and any defense, but he consistently torched the rival Packers in the earlier years of his career. He topped 100 receiving yards in five of his first six and seven of his first 12 games against Green Bay. He didn’t hit 100 in the 2004 wild-card game between the two teams, but after Moss’ second touchdown, he stood next to the goal post and pretended to pull down his pants, mooning the Lambeau crowd. It was not well-received, by Packers fans, media or Vikings’ brass, but it certainly was an unforgettable moment.
6. Welcome to New England
Moss’ two seasons in Oakland are basically a bad footnote to an otherwise stellar career. Nagged with injuries and stuck on a terrible team that won just six games in his time there, he wasn’t happy. And not long after arriving in New England after being traded by the Raiders, Moss missed time early in training camp because of hamstring injuries. Fans grumbled, sports radio hosts groused. It was all forgotten in the regular-season opener, when Moss lit up vaunted rookie Darrelle Revis and the Jets’ defense: nine targets, nine catches, 183 yards, one touchdown and the realization that Brady-to-Moss would be a dream to watch.
5. Feasting on Cowboys
Moss was the 21st pick in the ‘98 draft, with 19 teams passing on him (the Bengals had two first-round picks that year), but on his pre-draft visit to Dallas he became convinced the Cowboys would take him at No. 8. The snub bothered him. So on Thanksgiving of his rookie year, when Minnesota played in Dallas, Moss showed them what they missed out on. He had 163 yards and three touchdowns that day – on just three catches.
4. His name became a verb
Ask any football player of a certain age, especially ones that play defensive back, and there’s one thing they don’t want: to get Moss’d. You know, when Moss would out-jump whoever was covering him, reach in front of him or behind him or whichever impossible angle he needed, and grab the ball, embarrassing the cornerback who seemingly had no chance? That’s getting Moss’d.
3. The record setter
Given new life after his trade from Oakland to New England, Moss in 2007 was incredible. He and Brady had an instant chemistry, and the Patriots offense put up unheard-of numbers week after week. In the regular-season finale, Brady and Moss both set single-season league records, on the same play: fourth quarter, just over 11 minutes to play, third-and-10. Moss streaking down the right sideline, Brady hits him for what was a 65-yard touchdown. The 50th TD pass for Brady that season was the 23rd receiving TD for Moss, breaking Jerry Rice’s long-held record.
2. Watch me now
Moss set an NFL rookie record with 17 touchdowns in 1998, and was the AP offensive rookie of the year. His first career game, against the Buccaneers, gave a glimpse of what was to come (he recorded four catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns), but he really announced his arrival in Week 5, when Minnesota played the Packers at Lambeau Field. Five catches, 190 yards, two touchdowns in the Vikings’ 37-24 win, which ended a 25-game Lambeau winning streak for Green Bay.
1. Could it be anything else?
The Moss moment of all Moss moments. The NFL fined Moss $10,000 for his faux-full-moon stunt against the Packers, and a field producer and cameraman from Minneapolis station KARE tracked the receiver down in the player parking lot after news came of the penalty.
The producer, Dana Thiede, asks Moss if he wrote the check to the league yet.
Moss: “When you’re rich, you don’t write checks.”
Thiede: “If you don’t write checks, how do you pay these guys?”
Moss: “Straight cash, homey.”
Not long after that, Moss was traded to Oakland, and media were banned from the Vikings’ player parking lot.