1. Draft-day slide
Though he had top-five talent, Moss slid all the way to No. 21 in the 1998 NFL draft due to concerns about his attitude and character. At Marshall, he tested positive for marijuana, received a misdemeanor battery charge and was involved in a skirmish with his girlfriend that was broken up by police. He also spent 93 days in jail in 1996, which resulted in getting his scholarship pulled from Notre Dame. Later, he was kicked out of Florida State. When the Vikings selected him at 21, coach Dennis Green said the team was "taking the high road" and that "we have a full glass of water here." Moss wasn't worried about his past problems on draft day either. "As far as I know, I haven't seen any policemen in my face," he said. "As of right now, my nose has been clean."
2. Monday Night debut
Moss scored two touchdowns in his NFL debut against the Bucs and had gotten into the end zone twice more by the time Brett Favre(notes) and the Green Bay Packers came to Minneapolis for a Monday night matchup on Oct. 5, 1998. It was a matchup between undefeated teams, and the rookie sensation stole the show. Moss caught five balls for 190 yards and two touchdowns from Randall Cunningham en route to a Vikings victory. For a moment, he seemed unstoppable.
3. Thanksgiving Day touchdown parade
The next time Moss was on a huge stage, he managed to exceed the expectations once more. On Thanksgiving day in Dallas, Moss caught three passes, all for touchdowns, in an epic 46-36 victory over the Cowboys. The Vikings would finish the 1998 season 15-1 before losing to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship.
4. Squirting a water bottle
In his second season, a frustrated Moss squirted an official with a water bottle late in a playoff loss to the St. Louis Rams. He was fined $25,000 by the league. In the coming years he would be fined $25,000 for making contact with an official, $30,000 for three taunting incidents in 2001, and $15,000 for being verbally abusive with a sponsor on an airplane.
5. Glitter, glisten, gloss, floss
In the Outkast song "The Whole World," guest rapper Killer Mike drops a Moss reference that may be the single-greatest sports-related rap lyric of all time. Listen to it here. (SFW)
6. The traffic cop
In 2002, Moss was arrested in downtown Minneapolis for allegedly pushing a traffic cop for a half-block with his car. It was an enormous story at the time ("SportsCenter" dedicated most of its 6 p.m. show to it) but has been mostly forgotten over time (much like T.O.'s "overdose").
7. Early exit in Washington
Moss left the field early in what would end up being his final regular-season game with the Vikings. Minnesota had scored a late touchdown to cut the Redskins lead to three in a meaningless Week 17 game, but when the team lined up for an onside kick with two seconds remaining, Moss was nowhere to be found. He was heavily criticized by teammates, coaches and commentators. If the Vikings didn't have plans to cut ties with Moss before that, they certainly did after.
8. "A disgusting act"
Joe Buck may have overreacted just a touch, but Moss' fake mooning (which came in a wild-card game one week after the incident in Washington) was the cherry on top of his break with the Vikings.
9. Straight cash, homey
After Moss got fined $10,000 by the NFL for the mooning, he was asked by a reporter how he was going to pay the fine. Shakespeare himself couldn't have put it better:
10. The good times
It wasn't all bad for Moss in Minnesota. Far from it. We paid attention to Moss' dramatics because his play warranted it. He left Minnesota as the second-leading receiver in franchise history (behind Cris Carter), made three All-Pro teams and advanced to two NFC Championship games.
A motivated Randy Moss can still be one of the top receivers in the league. He's still only 33 years old. Yes, he's surly. Yes, he's a malcontent who will shut it down at the first sign of trouble. He's also the greatest big-game receiver the league has ever seen. If he wants it -- and I think he does -- then this is a perfect move for both teams. The Patriots swap a diva for a draft pick and the Vikings get Brett Favre the target he desperately needed. Down the road this will implode, as these things tend to do with Randy Moss. But before that happens, he's going to show us flashes of the old days when he electrified the NFL, brought the Vikings back to the top and gave us a reason to pay attention to all those antics in the first place.
- Randy Moss