April '98: 19 teams pass on the talented, but troubled Randy Moss on draft day as the Vikings snag him with the 21st pick despite his troubled background that included numerous run-ins with the law for battery and marijuana possession.
THE FIRST IMPRESSION
September '98: Moss makes a big splash in his first game (with me in attendance) as he catches two touchdown passes from Brad Johnson in a 31-7 route of the Buccaneers.
October '98: Moss rips it up on Monday Night Football in Lambeau Field in front of a national audience for the first time as he catches two touchdown passes from Randall Cunningham and racks up 190 yards as the Vikings humiliate the Packers, 37-24 and I am richly rewarded for taking the night off work.
November '98: As the Vikings are in the process of rolling over the NFC on their way to their best regular season ever, Moss catches three passes on Thanksgiving day in Dallas, all for touchdowns, and all over 50 yards as the Vikings improve to 11-1 with a 46-36 victory over the Cowboys. My turkey and mashed potatoes never tasted so good.
November '98: In the first of his many fines over the years, Moss is fined $10,000 for excessive verbal abuse of the referees. Over his seven year career, his fine total would reach $125,000.
SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR
January '99: Thanks to some brilliant clock management by Denny Green, including a decision to let the best offense in NFL history run out the clock with 45 seconds left to force overtime in the NFC championship game (with me in attendance witnessing my lowest point ever as a Vikings fan), the Vikings fail to make the Super Bowl after going 15-1 that season. Who knows how a trip to the big game would have changed the course of history for Moss and the Vikes.
January '00: Moss decides to take out his frustration by squirting a ref with a water bottle from the sidelines and then ducking behind a teammate during a humiliating playoff loss in St. Louis.
October '00: Moss is fined $30,000 and thrown out of the game for tugging on an official's arm and bumping him with his facemask while arguing a call in Tampa Bay.
January '01: Moss tries to sneak some of his friends past security and onto the field before the NFC championship game. The Vikings go on to lose the game 41-0 to the Giants. After the game Moss questions whether he will ever win a Super Bowl in Minnesota while teammates question his inconsistent efforts. Meanwhile, on interstate 694 in Minnesota, I contemplate moving to the west coast.
July '01: I move back to MN from Seattle just in time to see Moss sign an eight-year, $75 million contract with an $18 million signing bonus. When asked what his goals are for the upcoming season, Moss replies, "Super Bowl, homeboy."
DEATH OF A TEAMMATE
August '01: Moss lets his emotions flow after the sudden death of his good friend, Korey Stringer. In a press conference the day after, Moss breaks down crying in front of the cameras saying "I don't know how and when I am ever going to get over this."
October '01: I become a Christian and the Vikings suddenly move to a distant second place in my life.
November '01: Moss gets harder to love with his famous quote, "I play when I wanna play," which summarizes his reputation.
January '02: Mike Tice takes over for Denny Green as head coach and unveils the "Randy ratio," which is his plan to get Randy the ball on 40% of the plays that season. The Vikings finish 2002 with a 6-10 record and the phrase is never heard again.
September '02: Moss is arrested for bumping a Minneapolis traffic cop with his Lexus. He is later quoted as saying "I don't know if trouble's out to find me. I'm certainly not out there to find trouble." The following Sunday the Vikings play Seattle--a game that I drive 1,700 miles to see only to be harrassed by coffee-drinking Seahawk fans dressed in orange prison jumpsuits with "84" painted on them--and are defeated 48-23.
I GOTTA GO
January '05: With two seconds left on the clock and the Vikings trailing 21-18 to the Redskins, Moss decides to head for the locker room. The Vikings finish 8-8 but still manage to make the playoffs and head for Green Bay for the Wild Card game.
January '05: Moss leaves us with one last good memory as the Vikings, in the most important game of my life as a Vikings fan, thrash the Packers at Lambeau Field 31-17. Moss catches two touchdown passes and celebrates the second one by mock-mooning the Green Bay fans.
THE LAST STRAW
January '05: A reporter asks Moss about his $10,000 fine for the mooning incident. Moss says, "You don't write checks when you're rich." Reporter asks, "Then how are you gonna pay?" Moss says, "Straight cash, homey. Maybe next time I'll shake my &@#$!" The following week the Vikings lose 27-14 to the Eagles in Moss's final game as a Minnesota Viking.
February '05: Moss is traded to the Raiders for Napolean Harris and a draft pick.
Games played: 109
Super Bowl rings: 0