Saturday afternoon, Randy Moss heard a knock at his hotel room door. It was a knock he had been working hard to hear since he was six years old. That knock, of course, was none other than NFL Hall of Fame President David Baker. Moss was being notified that he had been chosen to be inducted into the Hall of Fame – first ballot no less.
Moss’ reaction, like many others who have heard the knock, was an emotional one filled with tears – “tears of joy,” Moss would later say. The former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver enjoyed quite a special weekend in Minneapolis. It was one to remember, being in the city where he spent the majority of his professional career, on the weekend it was hosting Super Bowl LII, and find out that he had been chosen among just a handful of names to be cemented as a legend.
“I wanted to try and stay even-keeled, no ups and downs because I knew it was going to be such a long day,” Moss said. “I tried to stay busy in the morning and take my focus and keep it off the Hall until 3 o’clock.”
“When 3 o’clock came, that’s when all the nerves start settling in. I looked at the clock and it was ticking slow,” he added. “Then the door, a knock … I think I just started getting excited. Seeing Mr. Baker at the door and all the emotions caught the best of me because it has been a long journey.”
There was never really any doubt in the minds of fans everywhere. Whether you are a Vikings fan or not shouldn’t have mattered. Moss was going to hear that knock at that very moment – no ifs, ands or buts about it.
“Now that I’m a Hall of Famer, I can breathe easy and be thankful,” Moss said Saturday night at the NFL Honors ceremony. “I started this game at six years old and never imagined I’d be here putting on a Hall of Fame jacket.”
“Now that this time has come and I can put this jacket on, it’s a blessing from above,” Moss said via Vikings.com. “I just can’t wait to celebrate with my family.”
Moss joined former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, a foe he spent years on the field playing against. Among other players voted in were linebacker Ray Lewis, safety Brian Dawkins and wide receiver Terrell Owens.
Moss, though, joined elite company as only the third wide receiver ever to be a first ballot Hall of Famer in their first year of eligibility. He joined Jerry Rice and Steve Largent in that conversation.
“I watched Steve Largent … I don’t think I can say enough good words about Jerry Rice and what he meant to the game,” he said. “To be the third, first-ballot, that’s special.”
Moss certainly belongs in that conversation with Rice and Largent. He ranks second all-time with 156 receiving touchdowns, second of course to only Rice. Moss also ranks third with 15,292 receiving yards and 15th in all-time receptions with 982. As a rookie in 1998, Moss finished with a record 17 touchdown catches on 69 catches that went for a total of 1,313 yards.
The way Moss’ career ended up is certainly different from how it began. As a high school kid who had originally signed his intent to play football for the University of Notre Dame, Moss was involved in a fight in March of 1995. Only three months away from his last day in high school, Moss had initially received a felony for hospitalizing a classmate who had used a racial slur directed at a friend of his. It would later be reduced to a misdemeanor. He was no longer headed to play for the Fighting Irish.
Instead, Moss found himself as a redshirt freshman at Florida State University. Similarly, he found himself in some trouble yet again. While serving his 30-day jail sentence, Moss tested positive for marijuana. He was subsequently let go from the program.
His third and final shot at getting his career off the ground at the college level found him at Marshall University. At the time, Marshall was a Division I-AA school. Very few players get from that level to the pros, let alone make a name for themselves in the NFL. Moss set out to do just that.
In 1996, Moss set Division I-AA records by catching a touchdown in 14 of his games that season and putting together a streak for the most games with at least one touchdown — 13. He also tied the record for most touchdown catches in a season with a ridiculous 28. The man he tied with will forever go down as the greatest of all-time — Rice.
The rest is a quick history lesson. Moss went on to be selected by the Vikings in the first round, number 21 overall after a stellar college career. After he pushed through his difficult times, Moss owned the spotlight — and his competition. Now, he finds himself at the pinnacle of the game.
“Tears of joy,” Moss said, regarding his emotional reaction. “When you put your heart and soul into the game, to be rewarded with that gold jacket, it speaks volumes.”
One of Moss’ former teammates and fellow Hall of Famer, Randall McDaniel, shared his sentiments about the receiver’s big day.
“I’m glad he’s in … that’s a good thing for the Vikings,” McDaniel said. “What a thrill for Randy to have that honor.
“Watching him in practice in Mankato and the first few catches he made and what he did, it was just a matter of time,” he added.
Plenty of players have a goal of reaching the Hall, but not Moss — that was never something he had his heart set on, believe it or not.
“Nothing really to be nervous about. When you look at it at the end of the day, I felt that for 14 years I played at such a high level,” Moss said. “At the end of the tunnel, when they say the ultimate goal or the last stop is the Hall, I didn’t play for that.”
It is pretty hard to believe Moss on this one, but either way, he made it. He’s in. The Freak has finally arrived in Canton.