by Michael Marek
Randy Moss has finally made it back to the big game. An older more mature Moss has been recast as mostly a role player, and has a chance to get a Super Bowl ring with the San Francisco 49ers. The connections to Minnesota in this version of the Super Bowl are on both sides, but with no offense to Ravens Center Matt Birk, Randy is more intertwined with the hearts and minds of the Vikings faithful.
It all started during 1998 NFL draft. The Vikings decided to take a shot on a troubled, but extremely talented wide receiver out of Marshall with the 21st overall pick. This selection turned out to be one of the biggest draft days steals in NFL history. Arguably the 2nd best player in the draft behind Peyton Manning, Randy immediately took the league by storm.
In his first NFL season he scored 17 touchdowns and propelled the Vikings to a 15-1 record and a berth in the NFC Championship game. Memorable moments from his first year include the dismantling of the Packers on his first appearance on Monday Night Football and his three touchdown performance against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, which gave all Vikings fans something to be thankful for. His jet-like speed, spring-loaded jumping ability, and hands that never seemed to drop a ball put Randy in a class by himself.
As a Vikings fan few things were as exciting as seeing number 84 streak from the line of scrimmage like a rocket and throw his hand up in the air. This was a signal to his quarterback to throw the ball up. It seemed like every time this transpired something amazing was about to happen. Randy had the ability to catch the uncatchable as evidenced by his multitude of one-handed grabs and acrobatic receptions in the end zone. Randy was something special. He was an explosive player whom the other teams couldnít diffuse. The sky was the limit for Randy, but like Icarus he flew too close to the sun and fell back to earth.
After a few more years of greatness in Minnesota things started to crash down. The Vikings had managed to continue to win games, but the Super Bowl remained just a dream. A series of on- and off-field problems started to circle around Moss. On the field he was known for criticizing the refs and even once squirted one of them with a water bottle. In interviews Randy was a columnistís dream, admitting to things such as ďplaying when he wants to play,Ē smoking marijuana ďonce in a blue moon,Ē and when a reporter asked Moss about a $10,000 fine that was handed down for mooning the Packer fans at Lambeau Moss said, ďYou donít write checks when youíre rich. (I pay with) Straight cash, homey. Maybe next time Iíll shake my &@#$!Ē Incidents like this secured Randyís first departure from Minnesota.
While Randy Moss was here he was always entertaining. His off-field hijinks didnít ingratiate him to Minnesota, but one must look past his indiscretions to see the greatness. Randy is arguably one of the best players ever to wear Minnesotaís colors, ranking up there with Kirby Puckett, Kevin Garnett, and Mike Modano in their respective sports. The difference is he is still looking for his title.
This Super Bowl represents his last best chance to get a ring. For the Super Bowl I will be pulling for the 49ers. For Randy itís one last chance to achieve the ultimate goal. For me itís one last chance to see my favorite player get a ring. Itís primetime for Randy, and good or bad he has never been one to shy away from the spotlight. While the purple reign that Vikings fans thought we were promised at the beginning of his career never came to be, it isnít too late for Randy to enter the fraternity of Super Bowl winners. Iíll be rooting for him one last time this coming Sunday in hopes that another great career doesnít go the way of Dan Marino and Fran Tarkenton with the blemish of being great but not having that Super Bowl victory. So get your 84 jerseys out and hope you see Randy streaking down the sidelines and that hand rising up in the air at least one more time.