Alexa

Good luck trying to gather this Moss

Good luck trying to gather this Moss

When his mother finally relented and decided to let him play American football, Santana Moss got the ball at his first practice and outran everyone else for what should have been a sure touchdown.
Instead, he slowed down and let everyone tackle him.
"I didn't know the concept," Moss said. "It was kind of funny as a 12-year-old, I didn't know much about the game. But once I learned it, it was downhill from there."
That might have been the one and only chance some people would ever have to run down Moss, who has used his speed and athleticism to become a big-play, game-changing force with the NFL's Washington Redskins. At 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters), he compensates for his smaller stature with an aggressive approach to the ball.
Then, once he's got it, good luck chasing him.
"I haven't seen anybody that I can remember that reacts to the long ball the way he does," Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs said. "He has unusual body control on anything deep.
"Most guys have to really look at the ball and size it up and put their hands where they need to go to get it at the high point. He can just glance, see where it is, and then he has a way of going to get it. He is real graceful when he goes to get the ball. When he hits the ground, he is an exceptional runner."
That's an apt description of what happened last week, when Moss snagged a high pass from Mark Brunell near the sideline with a cornerback on one side and a safety closing in. Both were left dumbfounded as Moss came down with the catch and ran untouched for a 68-yard touchdown to win the game in overtime against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
When Brunell threw the pass, Gibbs heard one of his assistants in his headset yell, "Don't go there!" Once Moss caught it, the yell changed to, "OK, go there!" Brunell said the pass was so risky he will probably be advised by coaches never to try it again, and that he wouldn't have taken the chance if Moss hadn't been the receiver.
"He's got the ability to go up there and make somebody miss," Brunell said, "and make the catch."
Brunell wasn't nearly as confident in Moss on March 10, 2005, when the Redskins acquired the receiver in a trade that sent disgruntled wideout Laveranues Coles back to the New York Jets. Coles was coming off a solid season _ 90 catches for 950 yards _ even though the offense had not been very good in Gibbs' first year out of retirement.
"When we traded a guy that had 80-something, 90-something catches for a guy that had 30 or 40, you look at the numbers and think, 'Who got the better end of that deal?'" Brunell said.
Moss caught 151 passes over four inconsistent seasons with the Jets, where he had sour dealings with the notorious New York media. Moss is usually a polite straight-shooter, but it's clear the Big Apple experience still rankles him, especially when it's mentioned that he had a reputation for being soft.
"If you pick up my rap sheet at the Jets and watch me catch balls across the middle and watch me do the things I did at the Jets, it won't be said that way," he said. "You know I have a problem talking to people? The reason I have a problem talking to people is because people find things that they hear from one person and they try to take it as what it is.
"If that was the case, then I wouldn't be the guy on the field doing what I was doing for the Jets. Like I said before, that stuff is way back there, and I'm going to leave it back there. I knew with them what I could do, and that's why the Redskins have me over there doing it."
In contrast to his days in New York, Moss enjoys hero status in Washington. He'll forever be remembered for his two fourth-quarter touchdown catches at Dallas last year, turning a 13-0 deficit into a 14-13 victory. That performance jump-started the Redskins' season _ and put Moss on track toward his first Pro Bowl. His three touchdowns last week similarly provided a needed boost for Washington's offense in 2006.
Moss was selected the NFC offensive player of the week for his game against the Jaguars, but he's not one who makes a fuss about honors. Or, as he calls it, "all that mushy stuff."
"As long as I know what I have done, I don't need someone to brag about it," he said.
Moss does come close to mushy when asked about his family. Brother Sinorice is a rookie receiver with the New York Giants, and brother Adam is a kicker for Florida International University. Sinorice is injured and won't play on Sunday, but Santana said the game will have extra meaning nonetheless.
"It'll be special," he said. "We all grew up pretty much seeing this day one day. I visualized this probably more than they did. Once I started playing football _ you can ask my brothers _ I came home and told them everything, both of them. I fed 'em, fed 'em, fed 'em. Now they're 20 and above and I'm still feeding them more knowledge and letting them know, because I know I didn't have that growing up. That's the good thing about being a big brother."
Moss said he has a hunger for the game because his mother wouldn't let him play until he was 12. Then he had a high school coach who gave him scant playing time until his final year.
"You know how people say: 'Live life like it's your last day?' I kind of take my catches like that," Moss said. "Catch this ball and leave some wind like this might be your last catch."
Now he's taking the same approach with son, Santana Jr.
"My son's 6, and he's eager to go out there and play," Moss said. "And I'm just going to let him stay hungry and wait until I think he's ready."


Updated : 2021-02-25 10:51 GMT+08:00