Randy Moss' retirement from the NFL was met with sighs of relief from defensive backs around the NFL and a collective "How soon does he make the Hall of Fame" question from pro football scribes and bloggers.
For talent evaluators, Moss' retirement is met with a different feeling, at least from this one.
It is met with appreciation.
Randy Moss' combination of size, acceleration, top-end speed and body control made him the dangerous wide receiver the NFL has ever known.
Moss wasn't the best receiver the league has seen. We all know that he was prone to listless, unmotivated play that sent him packing from more than one team. It is why, despite still undeniably possessing a big play ability that every team is looking, that Moss wasn't offered a competitive contract this off-season, leading to his retirement announcement.
We all know he didn't run the sharpest routes or possess the softest hands. He rarely demonstrated the physicality as a downfield blocker that a receiver with his size advantage could have.
The media tosses around the word "freak" to describe athletes with extraordinary athleticism. If there ever was an athlete that deserved the moniker, it is Moss. Put simply, tall skinny guys like the 6-4, 210 pound Moss typically don't have the muscle power in their lower body to generate the explosive acceleration and long speed that Moss so successfully used throughout his football career.
Too often Moss was miscast as strictly a deep ball threat. This is a valuable skill in the NFL, but demands "only" great speed. Moss' athletic brilliance was that he generated great speed so quickly. When he caught a slant, a hitch, a deep out or even a bubble screen, he had the burst to zip past the initial wave of defenders coming his way.
Moss' career numbers are astounding. He caught 954 passes for 14,858 yards and 153 touchdowns. He scored double digit touchdowns nine times over his career. You want big plays? He caught passes that gained his offense 40+ yards an amazing 76 times in his career. DeSean Jackson is often credited with his big play ability. Sure he's young and will hopefully continue his brilliant playmaking for a long, long time, but by comparison he's had 20. Moss' numbers are even more impressive when you consider that his boorish behavior often pushed him to new teams. In every case, he was expected by the fans (if not the coaching staffs) to be an instant savior of a passing attack.
That behavior may, unfortunately, be enough to keep some of the NFL scribes given the privilege of voting for the Hall of Fame to place some type of misguided moral code on their ballots.
Moss was among the truly elite, freakish players of his era. His ability to threaten the defense should be held in much the same regard as what Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens did as runners and receivers during their astounding careers. The Cover-Two defense was created to help stop Moss and other big play artists.
If Moss isn't a first ballot Hall of Fame player, than I haven't seen one.