MINNEAPOLIS -- First-ballot, homeboy!
Randy Moss, the mercurial, enigmatic, self-proclaimed "SuperFreak" who re-energized the Vikings' entire franchise in 1998, is heading to Canton, Ohio, as a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer. Of 27 modern-era receivers, Moss is only the sixth to make it in his first year of eligibility and only the second this century after Jerry Rice (2010).
Following a 36-minute discussion in which the consistency of Moss' work ethic was weighed closely against his 156 touchdown catches and once-in-forever skill set, Moss survived the scrutiny of 47 selectors during an 8-hour, 15-minute meeting at the airport Marriott in Bloomington on Saturday.
Meanwhile, former Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson made the cut from 15 to 10 modern-era finalists, but was eliminated in the cut to five in what was his first year of eligibility.
Joining Moss in the Class of 2018 are senior committee candidates Robert Brazille and Jerry Kramer; contributors candidate Bobby Beathard; fellow first-ballot linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher; safety Brian Dawkins and receiver Terrell Owens, whose 45-minute discussion softened considerably from his first two years as a finalist.
Others who made the cut from 15 to 10 were: offensive tackle Tony Boselli, guard Alan Faneca, cornerback Ty Law, and center Kevin Mawae. Eliminated were: receiver Isaac Bruce, offensive tackle Joe Jacoby, running back Edgerrin James, safety John Lynch and cornerback Everson Walls.
The selectors were then asked to trim that list to five. Eliminated in that round were: Boselli, Faneca, Hutchinson, Law and Mawae.
Hutchinson was one of five offensive linemen discussed. Only Jacoby, in his last year of eligibility as a modern-era candidate, didn't make the final 10. No linemen advanced, creating a continuing logjam at the position next year, when safety Ed Reed and tight end Tony Gonzalez further cloud the field by becoming eligible.
The last time two non-quarterbacks at the same position were in the same class was 1983.
For Moss, the football journey is complete.
"I'm stuck for words when I look at my life," he told the Star Tribune earlier this season. "A poor country boy from little Rand, W.Va. Growing up some nights, no electricity, wondering, 'What am I going to eat?' ... I've been blessed."
The 21st overall pick of the Vikings in 1998, played his first seven seasons in Minnesota. Owner Red McCombs traded him to Oakland before the 2005 season. Moss spent two years there before being traded to New England, where he set the single-season record for touchdown catches (23) during the only 16-0 season in league history.
Moss was traded back to Minnesota early in the 2010 season. He lasted only a month before coach Brad Childress released him. He spent the rest of that season in Tennessee, didn't play in 2011 and finished his career in San Francisco in 2012.
Moss ranks No. 2 in touchdown catches behind only Rice (197). He's fourth in overall touchdowns.
In 1998, the Vikings went 15-1 and scored a record 556 points. In 2007, the Patriots went 16-0 and broke that record with 589 points.
Moss is the only person who played on both teams. And he led the league in receiving touchdowns both years, setting the rookie record (17) the first year and the NFL record the second year.
Since he retired, there's been much debate about whether Moss' inconsistent effort on the field would cause him to wait for enshrinement. Discussion intensified as Moss neared his first year of eligibility as Owens' locker room baggage factored into T.O. being rejected by the selection committee the past two years.
But now it's over. The former Viking who once famously hollered, "Super Bowl, homeboy!" to express his goal for the Vikings will reside forever in Canton, Ohio.
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