MANKATO, MINN. (AP) - Randy Moss dominated when he wanted to dominate.
He scored when he wanted to score, cooperated when he wanted to cooperate and acted out when he wanted to act out.
Moss spent 13 seasons doing things on his own terms, which is why perhaps the loudest career the NFL has ever seen _ both in terms of the roars he induced on the field and the aggravation he caused off it _ ended so quietly on Monday.
No farewell speech from maybe the most physically gifted receiver to don a helmet. No tearful goodbye from a record-setting performer who changed the way defense is played in the NFL. Just a one-sentence statement from his agent saying one of the most colorful careers in league history was over.
It was vintage Moss, a revolutionary talent who was never very much interested in doing things the conventional way.
Fans were awed by his once-in-a-generation blend of size, speed and intelligence. Teammates were charmed by the charisma he showed behind closed doors and coaches were often infuriated by his boorish antics and lack of respect for authority.
If this indeed is the end for Moss, he leaves the game with some of the gaudiest statistics posted by a receiver. His 153 touchdowns are tied with Terrell Owens for second on the career list, and he’s also fifth in yards (14,858) and tied with Hines Ward for eighth in receptions (954).
“In a lot of ways, he was the Michael Jordan of offenses in our league,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “He was a special player for a long, long time.”
Those numbers, and his status as perhaps the best deep threat in NFL history, will make him a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame. But voters will also be weighing those achievements and his six Pro Bowl seasons against a history of mailing in performances and a reputation as a coach killer.
As Moss himself famously said: “I play when I want to play.”
And when he wanted to, there was no one better. And when he didn’t, there was no one more destructive.
Trouble off the field in high school prevented Moss from attending Notre Dame or Florida State, so he landed at Marshall and scored 54 touchdowns in two electrifying seasons with the Thundering Herd.
The character questions hurt Moss in the 1998 draft. He fell to the Vikings at pick No. 21 and he spent the next seven years making every GM in the league who passed on him regret it. He scored 17 touchdowns to help the Vikings reach the NFC title game, a season so overpowering that the rival Packers used their first three picks in the following April’s draft on cornerbacks to try to slow him down.