This article is one of a series of articles written about some of the current players of the New England Patriots. In this article we will look at the life and football career of Randy Moss, the Patriot's star wide receiver. While some of his off-field transgressions are well known, his stature of being one of the best wide receivers ever in the NFL is undisputed. Lets examine the biography of Randy Moss.
Randy Moss was born in Rand, West Virginia, on February 13, 1977 to Maxine Moss and Randy Pratt. Rand was a small mining town, not the type of town you would expect to produce one of the big stars of the NFL. Rand was so small that they did not have their own high school. Therefore, Randy attended high school at the now defunct DuPont High in nearby Belle, West Virginia.
During his high school years, Randy excelled in sports. His favorite sports were football and basketball. He helped bring his team state titles in both football and basketball during his junior and senior years. Because of his excellent performance in football during his high school years, college football powerhouses became very interested in him. Top colleges who displayed an interest in Randy were Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Florida State University. Lou Holtz of Notre Dame said that "Randy Moss was the best high school football player he had ever seen". In 1995, Randy signed a letter of intent to go to Notre Dame on a full football scholarship.
Racial tensions were high at the high school that Randy Moss attended. These tensions are resolved in many fights at DuPont High School. After signing to go to Notre Dame, Randy got involved in one of those racially motivated fights. This asserted in Notre Dame rescinding his scholarship. Lou Holtz recommended to Bobby Bowden, the head coach of FSU, to give Randy a chance. So Randy intended to go FSU on a full football scholarship. However, because of his signed letter of intent at Notre Dame, the NCAA considered him a transfer student. This made him ineligible to play for the Seminoles in the 1995 football season. So in 1995, Randy was red-shirted.
In 1996, due to some off-field transgressions, Randy was dismissed from Florida State. He ended up never playing for FSU. He then needed to make a decision on where to play his college football. He considered Marshall University, which was only a couple hours away from his home town. Randy knew that Marshall was going from a Division 1-AA to a Division 1-A, which would mean tougher competition, and greater exposure to NFL scouts. This I am sure influenced his decision to attend Marshall.
During the 1996 season, Randy broke many records as a freshmen at Marshall. This included most games with a touchdown catch in a season (14), most consecutive games with a touchdown catch (13), and most touchdown passes in a season (28). He also broke the record for the number of receiving yards gained by a freshman in a season (1709 on 78 catches), a record which still stands today. He helped Marshall take the national championship for Division I-AA schools.
Randy also played football at Marshall during his sophomore year. This was the first year for the University as a Division IA school. During the two seasons that Randy played at Marshall, he broke many NCAA records. Overall at Marshall, he scored at least one touchdown in all 28 games that he played. He won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's leading wide receiver, and was a finalist for the 1997 Heisman. He finished 4th in the polling for that year, behind Ryan Leaf, Peyton Manning, and Charles Woodson. Not bad considering Randy was only a sophomore. Charles Woodson, the University of Michigan star, who won the Heisman that year, stated that "Randy had a superior talent, and he was surprised that Randy did not get the Heisman".
Randy Moss was so good during his sophomore year at Marshall, that many of the NFL scouts started to take notice. It appeared as if Moss would have been drawn in the 1998 NFL Draft, and this is exactly what happened. This meant that he would no longer attend Marshall University. The remarkable two seasons that he had at Marshall were good enough to get him drafted.
Moss was taken by Minnesota in the 21st round of the 1998 NFL Draft. He was expected to be drawn in the top 5 rounds, but during the draft teams were hesitant. I am sure his off-field issues played a role here. Also, Moss missing the NFL combine in Indianapolis, prior to the draft that year, was a concern to some NFL teams. The combine provides a showing of top potential NFL draftees to NFL scouts. He missed the combine, due to an abscessed tooth. But some believe that he was trying to avoid the drug testing. In any case, Minnesota at that time was a perfect fit for Randy.
At the end of the 1998 regular season at Minnesota, Moss was named a Pro Bowl starter and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year for his rookie-record 17 touchdown receptions. From 1998 to 2004, Moss had a stellar career at Minnesota. He then spent a couple of years with the Oakland Raiders, before ending up at the New England Patriots.
In 2007, the New England Patriots picked up Moss on a trade with Oakland. Moss did very well during the 2007 season for the Patriots. He had the highest total yardage for the Patriots with 98 catches for 1,493 yards. That season he earned his sixth Pro Bowl selection, made touchdowns in 13 of 16 games, had nine 100 yard games, and helped bring the New England Patriots an undefeated season, with the only loss being in Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants.
In 2008, Moss made 69 catches for 1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns. Quite an accomplishment considering quarterback Tom Brady was lost to a season ending knee injury in the first game of the year. In 2009, Moss is having another stellar season for the Patriots.
Randy Moss to this point has had an amazing football career. Although he has had his share of off-field transgressions, he has that uncanny ability to focus on the field and perform at times when it really matters. His story is one of rags to riches. The town he grew up in was very poor. He has been motivated by his need to help his mother, who worked long hours as a nurse's aide in order to help keep her children healthy and happy while growing up. His story is one you see frequently in professional sports.
Randy Moss has become one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. In 2008, he earned 14 million dollars. In the future, he should be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not bad for a kid from poverty ridden Rand, West Virginia. His rags to riches story should serve as an inspiration to all kids who are growing up in poverty ridden conditions. He is achieving his idea of the American dream, and he has shown that hard work and focus when it matters, can result in achievement, no matter what your endeavor.