When asked whether he still smokes marijuana during in a 2005 pre-season interview with for HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," Oakland Raiders wide receiver Randy Moss said, "I might. I might have fun. And, hopefully ... I won't get into any trouble with the NFL by saying that. I have had fun throughout my years . . . predominantly in the offseason." The former Vikings star was found with marijuana in his car after a traffic incident in 2002.
In an article about Moss"s admission, sportswriter Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun Times asked, "Why do we rail against steroids and giggle about marijuana? Is it because we might have gotten high a few times in a college dorm and went on to lead normal lives? Is it because steroids enhance athletic performances and muddle statistical comparisons while pot, in some households, might augment a good time? Is it because steroids can make heads and bodies swell grotesquely while weed only gives you the munchies?"
By all accounts, Moss has been a pleasant, cooperative teammate since joining the Raiders in March 2005, shortly before Oakland voters approved a measure last year to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana. His energy, enthusiasm and healthy competitiveness were compared to Magic Johnson's.
Moss's willingness to work hard and impart his football knowledge to his impressionable teammates does not surprise Raiders coach Norv Turner. Before picking up Moss in March Turner spoke to former Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert, who played with Moss in Minnesota. "From a player's standpoint, you want to know what his chemistry was like in the locker room," Turner said. "Biekert said it was unbelievable. He told me that at practice, every day, you'd want to see what kind of play the guy was going to make. He said he certainly knows how to work and he certainly knows how to help young players."
Florida Chargers wideout Kassim Osgood said of Moss, "He's one of those guys you enjoy being around, just because he's always got something funny to say. He's uplifting. He encourages you to work harder, and he takes the young guys and he critiques your form and your work ethic. He'll challenge you to work harder." Chargers cornerback Drayton Florence said Moss always tried to be the first to arrive and the last to leave during their workouts. Osgood said Moss refused to accept second place in anything they did, including video games.
In addition to being a great athlete, Moss also is a student of the game. Raiders linebacker Kirk Morrison marveled at how he regularly comes to the line of scrimmage in practice, looks at the defense and correctly calls out what blitz is coming. Moss also studies tapes of the great wideouts who came before him, as well as those still in the game today. Hall of Famer Lance Alworth recently said Moss was No. 1 on his list of must-see players, a statement that led Moss to say: "That's a hell of a compliment."
"He's going to show his emotions when things aren't going well," Jordan said. "You know what? Give me Randy Moss. Give me Rasheed Wallace. ... Don't give me a guy who, when things are going well, they're going to shrug their shoulders, they show no emotions. They're not the kind of guy I want to go to war with. I want to go to war with a guy that when I look in his eyes, and I look at him every day, I see, you know what, he has a passion for winning."
In his first three games with the Raiders, Moss had 15 catches for 343 yards. Unfortunately, Oakland racked up 327 penalty yards too and lost all those games. A subsequent rib injury slowed him down and quarterback Kerry Collins took heat for failing to better utilize his star receiver, but there's always next year.
Scientists have long known that injured athletes or even gunshot victims have a period of time in which the body's pain reaction is delayed. In a study published June 22 in the journal Nature, scientists at the University of Georgia and the University of California, Irvine, among others, found that the release of the body's own marijuana-like compounds is crucial to stress-induced analgesia -- the body's way of initially shielding pain after a serious injury. And Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's leading all-time scorer, said he uses marijuana for migraines.
The football player who last season seems to have done so not from marijuana or any other illicit drug but rather from hefting his 315-pound frame across the gridiron. San Francisco 49ers guard Thomas Herrion was not alone. ESPN reports that last year 370 players in the NFL weighed over 300 pounds, and even high school players are feeling the pressure to bulk up to such unhealthy weights.