Moss, who leaves the NFL holding the single-season records for touchdown receptions (23 in 2007) and touchdown receptions by a rookie (17 in 1998), contributed his fair share of media gems over a career marked by greatness on the field, and an unflinching tendency to say exactly what was on his mind off of it.
"The plane crash was before my time. I don't try to go back in the past and say this football game is for the people in the plane crash. I've seen the burial ground. I went up there and looked at the names. It was a tragedy, but it really wasn't nothing big."
In 1997, the eyes of the sporting world were fixed upon Randy Moss, a supremely talented yet troubled wideout who had been bounced from Florida State by Bobby Bowden, due to his fondness for a certain green herb. He was leading a renaissance for a football program at Marshall that had struggled to recover from a devastating 1970 plane crash, which claimed the lives of 37 Marshall players, eight coaches and 25 boosters.
Hailed by many as the most gifted player in college football, Moss stirred up controversy with comments that were published in a 1997 article in Sports Illustrated, in which Moss eschewed his role as the savior of Marshall's program by referring to the 1970 tragedy as "nothing big."
Moss later claimed that the quotes were taken out of context.
Reporter: "Write the check yet, Randy?"
Moss: "When you're rich, you don't write checks."
Reporter: "If you don't write checks, how do you pay these guys?"
Moss: "Straight cash, homey."
The incident that enraged thousands of Packers fans, disgusted Joe Buck and probably got Randy Moss bounced out of Minnesota also spawned what is arguably the most recognizable sound bite in Moss' bizarre repertoire of impetuous idioms. The Fully Clothed Mooning of Lambeau Field resulted in a $10,000 fine for Moss, who admitted that it was no big deal, and the kind of off-the-cuff remark that trouble-making superstar athletes the world over can only aspire to imitate.
One week after this comment hit the air, Moss was traded to the Oakland Raiders.
"I might. I might have fun. And, you know, hopefully...I won't get into any trouble by the NFL by saying that, you know. I have had fun throughout my years and, you know, predominantly in the offseason."
In a 2005 interview with Bryant Gumbel, Randy Moss admitted that he had used marijuana during his time in the NFL, and still smoked "every blue moon." The always forthright Moss made sure to acknowledge that he used the drug "predominantly in the offseason."
When his comments drew criticism from NFL brass, Moss insisted that he had been referring to past use, stating "that was really me talking in the past tense of way back in the beginning of my career and my childhood–especially in high school and college."
"Maybe because I'm unhappy and I'm not too much excited about what's going on, so, my concentration and focus level tend to go down sometimes when I'm in a bad mood."
Randy Moss' time with the Oakland Raiders saw the franchise plagued by an inability to capitalize on the optimism that the wideout's acquisition had generated early on. While Moss did have flashes of brilliance, nagging injuries, uneven play at the quarterback position and player-coach strife saw Moss, a jocular figure of defiance in Minnesota, morph into a glum shadow of himself who was none too subtle about his desire to leave Oakland.
Following his exit from the Bay Area, former Raiders offensive coordinator Tom Walsh called Moss "a player whose skills are diminishing." Walsh also claimed that Moss had said to him "I'm too old to practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but I'm not too old to play on Sunday." Following a change of scenery, Randy Moss had an NFL-record 23 touchdown catches on his way to helping the New England Patriots to 16 straight regular-season victories.
"I am not going to answer any more questions for the rest of this year. If it is going to be an interview, I am going to conduct it. So, I will answer my own questions and ask myself the questions and give you the answers. So from here on out, I am not answering any more questions the rest of this season."
Following a period of brilliance in New England in which he collected 50 touchdown receptions in 52 games, Randy Moss was abruptly traded to the Minnesota Vikings, the team where he had become a superstar.
The fact that Moss had made his desire for an exit from New England public made the press conference following his declaration that he would not be addressed by the media all the more bizarre. Moss launched into a long-winded, sighing criticism of the Vikings coaching staff, while simultaneously heaping praise on Bill Belichick and his now former teammates on the Patriots.
The tirade did not sit well with Vikings management, and Moss was waived by the team less than four weeks after his acquisition. He would play the rest of the season with the Tennessee Titans after being claimed off waivers, ultimately retiring before the start of the 2011/12 season.