In hindsight, the character concerns which once surrounded Minnesota Vikings legend and current ESPN analyst Randy Moss seem extremely unfounded.
Even Moss would admit he was, and still is, passionate about football to a fault. Moss retired as one of the greatest receivers in league history and sometimes, that passion and ambition painted him as a villain and distraction.
The greatest example is the famous “I play when I want to play” comment Moss allegedly said in his first stint with the Minnesota Vikings. But there is more to that quote than many thought — and possibly still do.
Randy Moss is an NFL legend
Randy Moss called himself the “SuperFreak.”
Standing tall at 6 feet 4 inches and weighing 210 pounds, at least Moss lived up to the name. Moss played his final NFL down in February 2013 and his numbers still don’t look real.
Moss retired with 982 catches, 15,292 yards, and 156 touchdowns in 218 career games. The six-time Pro Bowler averaged nearly 16 yards per reception and earned four selections to the first-team All-Pro team.
Moss also had 47 career playoff catches for 865 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 playoff games across 13 seasons with four teams. Unfortunately for Moss, he retired without having won a Super Bowl ring.
The final numbers were more than enough to earn Moss a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Minnesota Vikings later inducted Moss into the team’s Ring of Honor.
A misinterpreted quote haunted Moss throughout his career
No matter what Randy Moss did to prove he wasn’t a distraction or character concern, one quote always haunted him throughout his career.
In a 2001 interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Moss said, “I play when I want to play.” Because tone is lost over print and text, the quote took on a life of its own and various people interpreted it differently.
In a June 2017 press conference, Moss said the quote’s meaning was “mixed up over the years.”
According to Yahoo Sports, Moss meant the quote releated to what motivated him to play.
“To some it might have been arrogance. To me, I was just focused. Tunnel vision, man. 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 their doll babies. Ever since I was 6 years old, I loved the game of football, man. That’s what drove me to where I’m at today.”
Moss added, in hindsight, he “should have spoke about what I really meant.”
Randy Moss has restored his reputation in recent years
Joining ESPN was possibly the greatest decision Randy Moss ever made, at least when it applies to his career.
Moss has created a new reputation for himself at the Worldwide Leader. Football fans have seen a different side of Moss, between his “You Got Mossed!” segments and the infectious love he showed when his son, Thaddeus, played at LSU.
The platform has also allowed Moss to remain relevant in the football world. Instead of being the anti-hero or heel character that he was painted as in his playing days, Moss is now a wise analyst and loving father.
ESPN was wise to give Moss the prominent role they did, and the move continues to pay off for all parties.