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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The ball was flying down the field often for Minnesota during that drizzly night in Green Bay [url=http://www.losangelesramsteamonline.com/jared-goff-jersey]Authentic Jared Goff Jersey[/url] , and Randy Moss kept going over and past the defense to get it.
Five games into his NFL career, Moss was a star. He was a revolutionary, too. There was no moment that better defined his arrival as the league’s premier deep threat than that breakout prime-time performance against the two-time reigning NFC champion and bitter rival Packers.
”Seeing Randall Cunningham smile, seeing him energetic,” Moss said, reflecting on his five-catch, 190-yard, two-touchdown connection with Cunningham that carried the Vikings to a 37-24 victory. ”It was just a great feeling.”
When the Vikings landed in Minnesota, his half-brother, Eric Moss, who was briefly his teammate, wondered about the celebrating the big win.
”I said, `Going out? No, I want to go home,”’ Moss said.
Then defensive tackle John Randle tapped him on the shoulder.
”Man, we’re going to party tonight!” Moss said, recalling Randle’s pronouncement to the rookie. ”That’s when I finally understood what it really meant to the guys for us to go into Lambeau and win.”
Twenty years later, with Moss set to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend after being elected in his first year of eligibility, the swift, sleek and sometimes-sassy wide receiver has finally understood the depth of his impact on the game and the privilege of opportunity to serve as a celebrant of the sport.
”I came into the league with, I guess, my head not really screwed on my shoulders properly,” Moss said recently on a conference call with reporters.
Over time, the ”homebody-type guy” from tiny Rand, West Virginia [url=http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/allen-robinson-jersey]Authentic Allen Robinson Jersey[/url] , who ranks second in NFL history in touchdown receptions (156) and fourth in receiving yards (15,292), learned how to soften some of the edges he’s carried since he was a kid.
”I’ve been able to open myself up and meet more people, be able to travel the world,” said Moss, who’s in his third season as an ESPN analyst. ”Football here in America is a very powerful sport, and just being in that gold jacket, hopefully I can just be able to continue to reach people and continue to do great things.”
Moss will become the 14th inductee from the Vikings, joining former teammates Cris Carter, Chris Doleman, Randall McDaniel and Randle. He’ll be the 27th wide receiver enshrined at the museum in Canton, Ohio. That’s a three-hour drive from his hometown, but it’s sure a long way from poverty-ridden Rand where Moss and his sports-loving friends played football as frequently as they could in the heart of coal country next to the Allegheny Mountains just south of the capital city, Charleston.
”It was something that just felt good. I loved to compete. I just loved going out there just doing what kids do, just getting dirty,” Moss said.
He landed at Marshall University after some off-the-field trouble kept him out of Florida State and Notre Dame, and he took the Thundering Herd to what was then the NCAA Division I-AA national championship in 1996. Several NFL teams remained wary of his past, but Vikings head coach Dennis Green didn’t flinch when Moss was still on the board in the 1998 draft with the 21st overall pick. Moss never forgot the teams that passed on him, with especially punishing performances against Dallas, Detroit and Green Bay.
”I just carried a certain chip on my shoulder because the way I grew up playing was just basically having a tough mentality,” Moss said. ”Crying, hurting, in pain? So what? Get up, and let’s go.”
The Vikings finished 15-1 in 1998, infamously missing the Super Bowl by a field goal. The next draft [url=http://www.neworleanssaintsteamonline.com/drew-brees-jersey]Authentic Drew Brees Jersey[/url] , the Packers took cornerbacks with their first three picks.
Moss never escaped his reputation as a moody player whose behavior and effort were often questioned. That led to his first departure from Minnesota, via trade to Oakland in 2005.
The Raiders dealt him to New England in 2007, when the Patriots became the first 16-0 team before losing in the Super Bowl, to the New York Giants.
After a rocky 2010 for Moss, including being traded by the Patriots and released by the Vikings, he took a year off. He returned in 2012 to reach one more Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers.
Moss was not a particularly physical player, but for his lanky frame he had plenty of strength. His combination of height and speed was exceptional, and his instincts for the game were too.
Carter taught him how to watch the video board at the Metrodome to find the ball in the air, and he had a knack for keeping his hands close enough to his body that if the defensive back in coverage had his back to the quarterback he couldn’t tell when the ball was about to arrive.
In an NFL Films clip that captured a sideline conversation between him and Cunningham during one game, Moss yelled, ”Throw it up above his head! They can’t jump with me! Golly!”
For Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, who has lived his entire life in Minnesota, was a sports-loving 8-year-old in 1998 when Moss helped lead the Vikings to what was then the NFL season scoring record with 556 points. The first team to break it was New England in 2007 with, again, Moss as the premier pass-catcher who set the all-time record that year with 23 touchdown catches.
”It’s fun to look back at his career and watch his old film. I love when that stuff pops up on Instagram, to be able to watch some of those old Randy plays that made me want to play this game,” Thielen said. ”I try to emulate him as much as I can.”
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting, the race is on to see who will referee the multibillion-dollar business of gambling on pro and college games.
The NFL, NBA and others want Congress to set uniform, nationwide rules on sports gambling for all states, saying the integrity of athletics is at stake. And an influential Republican on Capitol Hill, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, quickly announced plans to push for such legislation.
But states are already moving quickly to enact their own laws, with some legislators wanting fans to be able to place wagers by the time football season starts this fall. And there are serious doubts Congress wants to get involved.
”Sports are played on a national and sometimes international stage, crossing state borders and involving residents of numerous municipalities [url=http://www.tampabaybuccaneersteamonline.com/mike-evans-jersey]Womens Mike Evans Jersey[/url] ,” said Rummy Pandit, a gambling analyst with New Jersey’s Stockton University. ”From that standpoint, federal regulation of sports betting makes sense. But the federal government has not historically been involved in the day-to-day regulation and oversight of gaming.”
For years the major sports leagues argued that gambling on games would lead to match-fixing and point-shaving. Now that they lost the court battle with Monday’s landmark ruling, many suspect that they are now pushing for federal legislation not for high-minded reasons, but because they see it as the easiest way to get a cut of the proceeds.
Negotiating a piece of the action with Congress would be more efficient than trying to work out deals one by one with dozens of states.
If it passed a nationwide bill, Congress could require casinos, tracks or state governments to share some of their revenue with the sports leagues – or pay them what the leagues like to call ”integrity fees,” designed to cover the costs of policing betting.
The leagues have been making headway in negotiations on integrity fees with individual states, including Kansas, Connecticut, Indiana and New York, said Daniel Wallach, a sports law expert from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The leagues also have come down on their fee demands in several states, lowering them from 1 percent to 0.25 percent, he said.
Wallach said the leagues, in seeking to be paid for sports betting, might also be able to make a compelling court case that they have intellectual property rights in the data that is used in wagering.
On the other side of the negotiating table, the gambling industry might want to work out a grand compromise on giving a cut to the sports leagues, rather than ”battle it out, state to state to state, winning some, losing some,” Wallach said.
But state opposition remains strong. Within hours after the ruling, New Jersey lawmakers introduced a new bill to regulate sports betting that would drop the integrity fee that was in an earlier version.
In West Virginia [url=http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/kevin-white-jersey]Authentic Kevin White Jersey[/url] , Republican Gov. Jim Justice allowed a sports betting bill to become law without his signature and later announced he had reached a deal for casinos to pay a fee to pro sports leagues. But casino operators denied there was a deal.
On Monday, the high court struck down a federal law that limited sports betting to four states that met a 1991 deadline to legalize it: Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. It came on a court challenge from New Jersey. As a result of the ruling, states are now free to adopt laws regulating sports betting.
Hours after the ruling, the NFL called on Congress to ”enact a core regulatory framework” for legalized betting, citing ”the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events.”
The NFL reasoned, too, that it would be easier to comply with one nationwide set of regulations than with 20 or 30 individual ones.
The NBA likewise called for national regulation of sports betting.
Hatch, one of the authors of the federal law that was thrown out by the Supreme Court, sided with the leagues.
”The rapid rise of the internet means that sports betting across state lines is now just a click away,” he said. ”We cannot allow this practice to proliferate amid uneven enforcement and a patchwork race to the regulatory bottom. At stake here is the very integrity of sports.”
It’s unclear how eager Hatch’s colleagues are to wade into this debate. Lawmakers are spending more time in their home states as election season heats up. The legislative calendar is winding down. And some lawmakers with libertarian views favor letting states deal with the issue.
Also, Congress has been unable in recent years to pass federal laws regulating online poker, fantasy sports or internet gambling.
David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gambling Studies at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, predicted states will be reluctant to give up control over a potentially lucrative new source of tax revenue.
Sara Slane, a senior vice president at the American Gaming Association, said she believes Congress is going to have a hard time catching up with states that are moving quickly to legalize and regulate sports betting.
She said that many federal lawmakers already view sports betting as a states’ rights issue and that it will be difficult for Congress to roll back those efforts once betting operations are up and running.
”I do see this as somewhat dead in the water,” she said of federal legislation. ”This is going to largely unfold on the state level.”
Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was noncommittal Tuesday.
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