Randy Moss stopped being an NFL football player 18 months ago. He retired and walked away from the sport with his head down. There was no standing ovation during his final game. Moss wanted out, and as for the fans, the feeling was mutual.
The 2011 season passed with little noise coming from Moss’ area. Then there were whispers about him plotting a comeback. The whispers turned into shouts. It was true; Moss, the guy who took heat throughout his career for not giving his all, was interested in giving a little bit more.
If year 2000 Randy Moss became a free agent, teams would slip blank checks underneath his front door to try and sign him. That was not the case for year 2012 Randy Moss.
Moss worked out for a couple of teams. Some reports said he could still fly. Those reports were probably a tad bit embellished, but the San Francisco 49ers were impressed enough to roll the dice. Year 2012 Randy Moss settled for a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the 49ers. Chump change.
But to dissect the contract is to miss the point. What the 49ers really gave him was an opportunity – an opportunity to go out on the right note.
After securing a spot in San Francisco, Moss spoke on his decision to return. He talked about his passion and love for football. But more importantly, he said he had more to give to the game.
Moss’ contributions to the game don’t strictly come in the form of catches and touchdowns. “More” also includes what he’s providing the 49ers outside of playing football. He’s taken teammates out fishing, shown up to offseason workouts, and adopted a team-first mentality.
In 2012, Moss has been a fantasy football monster – that’s assuming your fantasy league includes stats for team-before-self actions and being a positive locker room presence.
Our final memory of Moss on the field may be of him setting a block as opposed to making a dazzling grab in the end zone.
And our final memory of Moss off the field could be of him staying in town to practice with fellow teammates during their bye week as opposed to him taking off to run over a meter maid with his car.
Whether right or wrong, the last chapter of a player’s career heavily defines how we remember them. Moss is currently making some notable edits to his chapter.
And what about the rest of the book? What’s the legacy of Randy Moss?
Well, Jerry Rice hopped on his soapbox in 2011 and said Moss could have been one of the greatest wide receivers ever had he tried harder. Take that stuff to the Apollo Theater, Jerry. Moss is one the greatest wide receivers to ever play.
When Shaquille O’Neal retired, the narrative was about what he could have done. What if Shaq didn’t rap? What if they stopped green-lighting those bizarre movies he was in?
What if, instead, we talk about how Shaq was the most physically dominant player in the history of the sport?
Randy Moss will not be immune to the same criticism Shaq encountered. Moss did dumb things on occasion. But he’s also caught 155 touchdowns and racked up over 15,000 receiving yards, which puts him second and fourth all-time in those categories.
Unreal speed, hands made of glue and a never ending vertical; Moss was nicknamed “The Freak” because he was one.
The book of Randy Moss has some twists and turns. The high moments were legendary and the low moments were hard to watch. But it looks like the author is doing his best to write a happy ending. And for Moss, a strong closing act is just what his legacy needs.
Maybe he can give Allen Iverson a writing lesson or two.