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The ball was flying down the field often for Minnesota during that drizzly night in Green Bay [url=http://www.thetexansfootballauthentic.com/keke-coutee-jersey-authentic]Youth Keke Coutee 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 [url=http://www.jetsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-nathan-shepherd-jersey]http://www.jetsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-nathan-shepherd-jersey[/url] , 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, 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 [url=http://www.jetscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-terrelle-pryor-sr.-jersey]Cheap Terrelle Pryor Sr. Jersey[/url] ," 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, 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 [url=http://www.49erscheapstore.com/jimmy-garoppolo-jersey-cheap]Jimmy Garoppolo Jersey[/url] , "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."
With the bases loaded and the game tied in the 10th inning, Brad Miller plotted his approach as he came to the plate.
”You just look like you’re going to swing and don’t swing,” Miller said.
Miller drew a bases-loaded walk with one out and the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers rallied past the Minnesota Twins, 6-5 on Monday night.
Nate Orf, playing in his first major league game, was hit by a pitch from Zack Littell (0-2) leading off the 10th. Manny Pina followed with a single and Keon Broxton walked.
Pinch-hitter Hernan Perez, hitting against five infielders, hit a grounder to the left side that shortstop Jorge Polanco fielded and fired to the plate to force Orf before Miller got his chance against Littell.
”It’s tough right now,” Littell said, trying to explain his lack of command in the 10th.
Corey Knebel (2-0) pitched a scoreless 10th with a pair of strikeouts for the Brewers, who trailed 5-1 after Robbie Grossman blasted his first career grand slam with two outs in the fifth off Milwaukee starter Brent Suter.
Milwaukee has allowed grand slams in three consecutive games.
Four Brewers relievers combined on five shutout innings.
”Corey had a dynamite inning,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. ”It was an outing for the bullpen. They kept us alive in that game.”
The Brewers rallied against Twins closer Fernando Rodney in the ninth to tie it. After retiring pinch-hitter Eric Sogard, Rodney gave up three consecutive singles to load the bases for Travis Shaw, who tied it with a sacrifice fly. Rodney blew his fifth save opportunity this season.
The Twins tied it at 1 in the third on a one-out RBI groundout by Brian Dozier [url=http://www.officialcapitals.com/authentic-adidas-t.j.-oshie-jersey]Adidas T. J. Oshie Jersey[/url] , one pitch after Dozier appeared to have struck out swinging. Plate umpire Doug Eddings ruled that Dozier had fouled off the pitch, a call argued by Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell.
Suter gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings.
Pina led off the Brewers’ fifth with a homer off Kyle Gibson to cut the Twins’ lead to three. Milwaukee added another run on Miller’s bloop single and pulled to 5-4 when Twins third baseman Willians Astudillo failed to cleanly field Ryan Braun’s grounder near the bag.
Gibson gave up eight hits and three earned runs over five innings.
ORF’S LONG JOURNEY
The undrafted Orf, 28, started at second base. He has been one of the top-producing players in the Brewers’ farm system for many years and fans have long been clamoring for him to be called up, even launching a (hash)FreeNateOrf campaign on Twitter.
”He is one of the more respected and revered players in our organization because of the way he treats people and because of the way he goes about his business,” Brewers general manager David Stearns said.
Orf, whose parents traveled from St. Louis for the game, narrowly missed hitting a grand slam in the fifth but Max Kepler hauled in the deep drive at the center-field wall.
”After I hit it, I was like this is it. This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” Orf said. ”Then he caught it.”
Gibson, who had singles in his first two at-bats, entered the game with just a pair of career hits in 16 at-bats. His single leading off the third was his first hit since June 2015.
”I’d rather go 0 for 5 and go eight innings,” Gibson said.
Suter singled in his only at-bat and Milwaukee reliever Taylor Williams got his first career hit with a sixth-inning single.
Twins: Reinstated SS Jorge Polanco following an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. To make room for Polanco, OF Ryan LaMarre was designated for release or assignment. … Recalled RHP Zack Littell from Triple-A Rochester and sent LHP Adalberto Mejia to Rochester.
Brewers: OF Christian Yelich sat out for the fourth consecutive time since leaving Thursday’s game with lower back tightness. ..RHP Aaron Wilkerson was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs when Orf was recalled. …Transferred INF/OF Nick Franklin, who has been out since May with a quadriceps injury, to the 60-day disabled list.
Twins: Jake Odorizzi (3-5, 4.62 ERA) allowed one run and five hits with 10 strikeouts in a May 20 start against the Brewers but didn’t factor into the decision.
Brewers: Junior Guerra (4-5, 3.05) surrendered one run and four hits in 4 1/3 innings and received no decision in a 3-1 loss to the Twins in Minneapolis on May 20.
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