Once-volatile Moss becomes veteran influence for 49ers
NEW ORLEANS — Cary Williams had his “Welcome to the NFL moment” early in his second season.
The now-Ravens cornerback played for the Titans in 2009 and had the unenviable task of covering Randy Moss. Back then, Moss was a New England Patriot, catching go routes from Tom Brady.
But it took a bit of trickery for Williams to surrender his first touchdown pass as a pro.
“(Moss) hit me on a flea flicker; Brady threw a great pass, he made a great play,” Williams said of one of the three touchdown catches Moss had that day.
“You can't sleep on Randy at all,” William said. “He's a guy who can get over the top on you at any given moment.”
More than three years have passed since the enigmatic receiver torched Williams. And two weeks shy of his 36th birthday, Moss has lost at least a step — and maybe two — from his prime.
But Moss still has the ability to go up and over corners for the football — a leaping display dubbed as “Mossing” the opposing player — that should at least give the Ravens pause when the veteran receiver, now with the 49ers, takes the Superdome field Sunday.
After a year out of football, Moss found himself in a new, foreign role in San Francisco: veteran mentor. The one-time NFL bad-boy - kicked out of Florida State for drugs and run out of Minnesota for repeated character run-ins - has mellowed with age.
He has played Yoda to developing San Francisco receivers such as Michael Crabtree, and despite limited chances, still managed 28 catches for 434 yards and four touchdowns.
And while Moss' physical skills might be diminished, his opinion of himself remains as strong as ever.
“I think when it comes to going out there, making plays and helping the team do the things that they are able to do to win the game — I think I am the greatest receiver ever, point blank,” Moss said this week.
Bold talk. But Moss' stats suggest he at least belongs in the conversation.
His 156 career touchdown receptions are second in NFL history, and his receiving yards (15,292) rank third.
“You are talking about Randy Moss,” Crabtree said at Media Day on Tuesday. “His voice alone gets you hyped.”
For many, Moss will forever be associated with his repeated screw-ups. That list is long — from giving questionable effort on the football field to admitted drug use to hitting a traffic officer with his car while making a wrong turn.
But Moss believes the public doesn't know the true him and hopes to change that with his own words. He plans to write a book that will help people understand him better.
“I have been through a lot, and I put a lot of heart, soul and dedication into this,” Moss said. “Sacrificing each and every day to make sure I go out here and prepare myself to be the best. I think that is going to be one of the main focal points of my book.”
Whatever your opinion of Moss, the NFL is more interesting with him in it. And unlike Ray Lewis, who will retire after Sunday's Super Bowl, Moss plans to return in 2013 for his 15th season.
“I love this game of football so much,” Moss said. “I don't like everything that comes with it, but going out on the field between the white lines and playing football is something I've always done.
“For me to be here, it's just like a dream because I would have never thought in a million years that this would happen.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL notebook: RG3 ‘not happy’ with benching
- NFL notebook: Vikings coach thinks Peterson will return to team once reinstated