No doubt there will be some cries of “good riddance” and tears of fear for the future with the departure of Randy Moss. While it’s far too soon to have any idea of whether this will be a case of “addition by subtraction” or not, it would be churlish indeed to fail to express my appreciation for being able to enjoy seven years of often spectacular, always entertaining playmaking.
Even though it didn’t end with the Super Bowl victory that has long eluded those of us who are porphyrogenitus, 1998 was the most magical of seasons. It was our first year living down south in a delightful little place on the beach, and spending Sundays at the sports bar with total strangers who happened to be die-hard Vikings fans was almost as fun, in its own way, as waving the sword and sounding the horn with the guys. And even as a number-three receiver wearing 18, Randy Moss was a huge part of that season.
It wasn’t just that Moss was so spectacular, but he brought a dangerous sense of explosiveness that pervaded the entire offense. The three-headed receiving attack was fantastic; I particularly remember the game against Tampa Bay that was their only regular-season loss that year. Randall Cunningham hit Jake Reed for a 49-yard TD bomb that was nullified by the oft-heard “false start on number 73 on the offense”, which is to say, Todd Steussie. On the very next play, Cunningham hit Reed for a 54-yard TD running precisely the same fly pattern as before. You couldn’t stop them, only Denny Green could contain them.
What was breathtaking about Randy Moss was the way that the entire Metrodome would suddenly fall silent when he went deep and the ball was in the air. The stadium would then erupt in a thunderous roar as the ball approached, and most of the time, he brought it in. Other than Jerry Rice, I’ve never seen a receiver who was capable of single-handedly striking such fear into a defense.
But football is the ultimate team sport. The Vikings learned that they can win without Randy’s involvement, and after seven years they have quite reasonably concluded that the team as it is currently constituted will not be winning Super Bowls with him. Nate Burleson and Kelly Campbell on are the verge of breaking out; the addition of a third receiver in free agency would allow the Vikings to spend two first-rounders on selecting defensive players to play with Napoleon Harris, their new linebacker.
I’ll miss the occasional antics, the good-natured war with the Packer fans and seeing defensive backs backing up ten yards off the line of scrimmage. And I certainly wish Randy Moss all the best in Oakland as Al Davis attempts to revive the legacy of Daryl Lamonica and old school Raidess football. In summary, one can only say: thank you for the funky time, Mr. Moss.