Mike McCarthy’s first exposure to Randy Moss came in 1998, when McCarthy was an assistant with the Kansas City Chiefs and Moss was a rookie first-round pick with the Minnesota Vikings. When the teams did a joint practice – back when the Chiefs’ training camp was in River Falls – McCarthy was impressed.
When McCarthy, now the Green Bay Packers head coach, watched Moss on national television on a rainy October Monday night later that year, he was even more impressed.
“Randy Moss is definitely a special player. Everybody remembers when he burst on the scene,” McCarthy said Wednesday, as the Packers prepared to face the now 35-year-old Moss, who’s making a comeback with the San Francisco 49ers after being out of football last year.
“I remember him, definitely … and the impact he had for the Vikings, particularly with the vertical game. He’s played a long time, very productive. I really haven’t seen him this preseason so I don’t have a strong opinion on where he is today. He’s a unique talent and you definitely have to be aware when he’s on the field.”
While Moss had a quiet preseason with his new team – he caught three passes for 24 yards in exhibition play – he’s always made plenty of noise against the Packers.
It all began on Oct. 5, 1998, when he caught five passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns of 52 and 44 yards at Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football. In the Nov. 22 rematch at the Metrodome, Moss caught eight more passes for 153 yards and 49-yard touchdown from quarterback Randall Cunningham.
From his coming-out party to the infamous “Mooning” game in the NFC Wild Card playoffs on Jan. 9, 2005 (four catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns) to his 2010 appearance with the Vikings and old buddy Brett Favre (three catches, 30 yards, one touchdown), Moss has caught 73 passes for 1,343 yards and 15 touchdowns in 15 career games against the Packers. He has more 100-yard receiving games against them (seven) and more receptions of 20 yards or more (23) against them than any other receiver.
Only Elroy (Crazy Legs) Hirsch, with the Los Angeles Rams from 1949 to 1957, was a more productive pass-catcher against the Packers (67 passes for 1,357 yards and nine TDs) in his career.
The question now, of course, is how much Moss has left. He signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the 49ers after sitting out last year and is now listed as a starter.
“No question. It’s still Randy Moss out there,” 49ers quarterback Alex Smith said in a conference call with Wisconsin reporters Wednesday. “When you get him one-on-one, it’s a favorable matchup right there. He has a special tool-set.”
Never the most cooperative player with the media, Moss gave an unexpected four-minute interview to Bay Area reporters on Wednesday, and while he began by saying he didn’t want to talk about his return to Lambeau Field – “I don't want to hear nothing about Lambeau Field … make it fast,” he told reporters – he ended up doing exactly that.
“I think I played in Lambeau maybe 14, 15 times,” said Moss, who’s actually played at Lambeau eight times. “I’ve played there a lot of times. It’s in the teens, double digit. I’ve had success on that field, won and lost. I just don’t like people bringing up the old stuff.
“I try to have fun with the fans, try to have fun. But at the same time, I want to go out and compete. So I think it’s a good thing that my comeback — or whatever you want to consider it — Lambeau’s a nice place to start it.”