BEST VIKINGS PLAYER - 2001
By mid-December, as the Vikings' season was proving once again to be a cruel mirage, the critics began casting about for someone to blame. Predictably, and rightly, the squad's defense took most of the heat. When the late-season collapse worsened, though, it became fashionable to point a finger at the team's most sensational player, wideout Randy Moss. ESPN commentator Merril Hoge got the ball rolling with a commentary in which he presented videotape documenting Moss's propensity for goldbricking. Local and national commentators, most notably the Star Tribune's Dan Barreiro and Fox-TV's Matt Millen, piled on Moss critiques of their own. Then, in the wake of the Vikings' season-ending loss to a mediocre New York Giants club, offensive tackle Todd Steussie took Moss to task publicly. Well, we'll concede that Moss doesn't give his all on every play. But the fact remains, the Freak is among the greatest--if not the greatest--big-play artists in the league. In just three seasons, Moss has racked up 43 touchdown receptions, averaging over 18 yards a catch and totaling some 4,163 yards. At that rate, Moss will eclipse the career numbers of Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver of all time. In the new NFL, free agency and the salary cap have brought an unprecedented degree of parity to the league; as a result, the outcomes of games hinge more than ever on big plays. And no Viking comes up with the Big Play more often, or more spectacularly, than Randy Moss.