June 14, 2017

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Randy Moss made quite the scene over his career with the Minnesota Vikings, from crowd-pleasing feats and game-changing ability on the field to that notorious tendency to mouth off afterward.

During what he believed to be a routine visit to Vikings headquarters to discuss some business for Super Bowl week, Moss was back in the spotlight again.

This time, he found himself there unwittingly . President Mark Wilf informed him that he and Ahmad Rashad, another former Vikings wide receiver, were picked as the 22nd and 23rd additions to the franchise's Ring of Honor.

Moss will be inducted Sept. 11 during Minnesota's season opener, a Monday night game that Moss would already be at for his duty as an ESPN analyst.

''It was definitely humbling, and I'm speechless,'' Moss said, then recounting for reporters his surprise Wednesday upon discovering the purple jersey bearing his name above the white 84 numeral in a frame on the wall outside the room where he met with Wilf and other Vikings officials.

Then Moss, followed by a camera crew on his every move, watched the Vikings practice and gave the players a brief pep talk at the end.

''What I took to heart was what Randy said at the end of the practice,'' said defensive end Brian Robison, the longest-tenured player on the team.

''I've always lived by the motto that, in order to be the best, you have to work harder than the rest. He broke us down today and said, `You have to work harder than anybody. You have to take advantage of every opportunity that you get.'''

When Moss slipped down the 1998 draft board, with other teams turned off by the trouble he got into during his college years, then-coach Dennis Green and the Vikings sure took advantage of their opportunity.

Moss set the NFL rookie record with 17 touchdown receptions and earned his first of three All-Pro honors with the team. There were behavioral problems along the way, and five-figure fines to pay, but Moss not only electrified a stagnant fan base but prompted rival Green Bay to revamp its draft strategy for defensive backs so they'd have bigger players to cover him with.

''The one thing that I will tell you, man: the love, the passion that I put into this game. To some, it might have been arrogance. But to me, man, I was just focused,'' Moss said.

''Tunnel vision, man. Because I always wanted to play the game of football, something I grew up loving to do as a kid. Some people like to play with their cars. Some girls like to play with doll babies. Ever since I was 6 years old, man, I loved the game of football. That's what drove me to where I'm at today.''

His favorite memory of playing in Minnesota? Naturally, that was his breakout game against the Packers in 1998 when he had three touchdown catches on a Monday night game, a 37-24 victory for the Vikings.

After seven seasons, he was traded to Oakland, only to return for one month during a tumultuous 2010 season when he clashed with then-coach Brad Childress and was cut.

Eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time next year, Moss is second in NFL history with 156 touchdown receptions and third with 15,292 receiving yards.

''All the memories that I have, good and bad, I won't trade them for nothing,'' Moss said.

Toward the end of his news conference next to the practice fields at Winter Park where he first ventured into the league, Moss was asked what he would say to Green, who died a year ago, if he were still around now. After a long pause to collect his emotions, Moss began to cry.

''Coach Green gave me an opportunity, man. I told him, `Coach, you're not going to regret this.' So, you ask me what I would say to him? Man, I'd probably just fall in his arms and give him a hug,'' Moss said.

---

For more NFL coverage: http://pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

You May Like