Derek Redd: Randy Moss’ NFL imprint comes into focus

FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2001, file photo, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss points to fans as he celebrates his first quarter touchdown against the New York Giants in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt, File)

As the years pass, we get a clearer understanding of the impact Randy Moss made in a 14-year NFL career — as if his career numbers weren’t enough already.

Second in NFL history in career receiving touchdowns, third in career receiving yards, those marks become even more impressive when you see how far away nearly every active player is from coming close to them. Take the touchdown total. Moss has 156 in his career. Antonio Gates, not getting any younger as a 13-year vet, is at 111. Larry Fitzgerald, who contemplated retirement after last season, is at 104. No other active player has more than 82.

The Minnesota Vikings gave Moss another honor, the latest of what should be many more, when they inducted him into the team’s Ring of Honor. It was at the press conference to announce that milestone that people saw a side of Moss that doesn’t usually come out before the cameras.

Someone asked him what he would say to his late former Vikings coach Dennis Green if Green were there that day to see the announcement. Green died last July from complications of cardiac arrest.

It was tough for Moss to get the answer off his tongue that day. He had to collect his emotions several times, wiping away tears underneath his sunglasses before he could respond. He knew exactly what Green meant for his career.

Moss was a Heisman finalist and a Biletnikoff Award winner when he came out of Marshall for the NFL Draft. Yet 20 teams found reasons to pass over him. Green and the Vikings were there at No. 21, and the coach and team snagged an unstoppable force.

In the end, Moss said there really weren’t enough words to say to Green to show his appreciation. A gesture would be better.

“Man, I’d probably just fall in his arms and give him a hug,” Moss said. “There’s no words that I could tell him. The man passed away without me really, really, really giving him my love and thanks for what he was able to do for me and my family.”

That chance Moss received allowed him to offer 14 years of evidence to the pro football world that he was not just on the best receivers, but one of the best overall to play in the NFL. Among the honors in his future should be a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the selection committee should waste no time in making that so.

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On the topic of all-time great West Virginia athletes, it’s inspiring to see that, even at age 79, Jerry West is eager to accept new challenges.

“Challenge” is a fitting word with his new endeavor, becoming a consultant with the Los Angeles Clippers in a role similar to that he just left with the Golden State Warriors. Those years were fruitful, with two NBA titles in three seasons and the regular-season wins record in between.

The Clippers, though, are something else. They welcomed the 21st century with a Sports Illustrated cover dubbing them “the worst franchise in professional sports history.” The Clippers have made strides since then, winning no fewer than 60 percent of their games in each of the last six seasons. Yet they’ve never made it past the Western Conference semifinals.

If there is anyone who can fix that, it’s West, who has worked magic with the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies and the Warriors. He went from one of the greatest basketball players in history to one of the sport’s greatest executives, his brilliant mind guiding him in both.

And he’s an inspiration for anyone to refuse to rest on his or her laurels. West could have coasted into retirement and the easy life a long time ago. In his eighth decade on this planet, he’s still making his mark on the sport.

Contact Derek Redd at 304-348-1712 or derek.redd@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

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