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  1. #1
    RandyMoss8404's Avatar
    RandyMoss8404 is offline Hall of Famer
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    Dec 1969

    Great read on Moss, in-depth study of his past.

    To understand Moss, understand Rand, W.V.

    By Neil Hayes


    Drive down Kanawha Boulevard in the capitol city of Charleston, W.V., and you'll see a tugboat pushing barge loads of coal down the Kanawha River, which slithers through this valley like a green snake. Three-story stone homes sit beneath stately trees. They were built by the barons who made a fortune off the sweat of the coal-dust covered men who crawled deep inside these mountains with powder and pickaxes. Five miles from the domed state capitol, past rusty boxcars and weed-covered railroad tracks, sits Rand, the most neglected town in a valley prosperity forgot.

    You have to understand this place before you can understand Randy Moss, the immensely talented and equally controversial wide receiver the Raiders hope can resurrect a franchise coming off the worst back-to-back seasons since managing general partner Al Davis took over the team in 1963.

    Rusty chain-link fences surround dilapidated clapboard houses and trailers in this small, unincorporated town that has slowly suffocating from the kind of poverty all too common in Appalachia. This is a place to escape from, not a place to come back to. The nearby chemical plant has scaled back its operation, and most of the mills and mines have closed. Drugs long ago infested a town of 2,000 that locals refer to as "Dodge City" because of the brawling and gunplay.

    Still, for Randy Moss, this is, and forever will be, home.

    "You can't tell Randy's story without coming here," said Dante DiTrapano, a Charleston-based lawyer who is also Moss' agent and perhaps closest friend.

    "Nobody knows what Rand is like, what Charleston is like."

    It's difficult for natives to escape the shadow of these misty mountains.

    They reel you in, like catfish from the river, which often are missing an eye or a part of a fin from swimming in the garbage-strewn river. Few leave this valley without scars.

    "People don't understand how traumatized he was by being labeled a villain," said Tim DiPiero, who works at the same firm as DiTrapano.

    It's the people who bring Moss back time and again. He is an intensely private person who long ago learned to be suspicious of outsiders. He trusts the people here, and the first thing you should know about Randy Moss is he doesn't trust many people.

    There's Sam Singleton, who is a father figure who coached him in youth baseball and football. He drove Moss to and from practice and even bought his cleats. You could always get a meal at Sam's house.

    "Sam was his life," said Donnie "Blue" Jones. "He bought him cleats and took him to practice. He wasn't just there for Randy, but all the kids. It was always a place where you could go get something to eat or just sit and talk."

    Moss always connected with Jones, perhaps because neither had a father growing up.

    "Big" Mike Thomas is a fun-loving school custodian, and Donte Ford makes everybody laugh. Moss visits them here, and they fly to meet him at a moment's notice when he's is starved for company. They, along with, DiTrapano and DiPiero, the lawyer who defended him in high school against a felony malicious wounding charge, are among the few people outside of his immediate family who truly know him.

    They warn you not to believe what you've heard about their old friend.They are convinced that only they know the real Randy Moss, the world-class athlete with a big heart and a small circle of friends. The Randy Moss they know is intelligent and generous and funny and, most of all, intensely loyal.

    "We're very protective of Randy," said Jones. "You won't find a person in Rand who will say anything negative about him. He's all we've got."

    So, who is the real Randy Moss? Is he the angry problem child who seems to create controversy wherever he goes? Or is he the Randy Moss whom his friends in Rand describe as a victim of circumstances beyond his control? Carl Lee is a West Virginia product and a former Minnesota Vikings defensive back. He is one of Moss' mentors and answers these questions with one of his own: "If you would've gone through what he went through, who would you be?"

    Can't outrun his past

    The people of Rand are suspicious of outsiders, especially those who insist on dredging up what they consider to be ancient history. Moss has paid his debt, they insist, and they're right -- he has paid dearly, in fact. But they reluctantly acknowledge that it's impossible to tell his story without explaining the events that shaped him.

    But first you have to go back -- way back -- to the little one-story white house at the end of Church Drive. It's there that Randy grew up with his older half brother Eric and older sister. They were often alone while single-mother Maxine worked two and sometimes three jobs to keep them off welfare.Randy had to walk more than a mile to school. His homework had to be done and the house immaculate by the time Maxine got home from work, which is probably why Randy remains a neat freak to this day. Open his refrigerator without washing your hands and expect to feel his wrath.

    He was forbidden from swimming in the river -- Jones calls it the "Rand Community Swimming Pool" -- because of all the broken glass, treacherous currents, junk cars and submerged tree limbs. He did it anyway, of course. He and his friends even tied a rope to a tree limb and swung out as far as they could. "He got many a whippin' for swimming in that river," Jones said.

    Sports and fishing dominated the lives of Moss and the kids he grew up with. They played touch football on a patch of grass near his house. They played basketball in various driveways late into the night. They were elite athletes pushing each other. They didn't realize it then -- they were just kids -- but they were building toward something never before seen in this valley.

    Speed and athleticism separated Moss from even the standout athletes he grew up playing against. Bobbie Howard Jr. went on to become a co-captain at Notre Dame before spending three seasons with the Chicago Bears. Eric Moss was a backup offensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings for one season. Sam Singleton Jr. was drafted in the seventh round of the 1995 baseball draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, and Jason Williams is the starting point guard for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. But it was Moss who dominated four sports since the age of 15.

    "It's pretty remarkable for a small town to have that many athletes at the same time," Howard said. "The competition definitely helped. We never wanted to lose to each other."

    Moss was the most decorated prep athlete in state history, bigger even than Jerry West, who forged his legend across the river at Eastbank High School.

    Moss was named a first-team Parade Magazine All-American wide receiver after leading DuPont High to back-to-back state football championships. Then-Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz called him the greatest prep prospect he had ever seen. Moss twice was named the state's basketball player of the year and averaged 30 points and had 69 dunks as a senior. He won the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the state track meet despite spending little time training for those events.

    "The only thing that disappointed me about Randy is that he didn't play baseball (as a senior)," Leroy Harris said while standing on the steps of the First Baptist Church. "He played centerfield. I never saw anybody hit a double on Randy. A Pittsburgh Pirates scout told me that if he had played baseball his senior year he would've gotten a six-figure signing bonus."

    DuPont High School had never won a state championship in anything before Moss arrived.

    The high school since has been turned into a middle school. An overturned grocery cart sits next to an overflowing Dumpster near where the bleachers used to be. It doesn't look like much now but thousands packed this place when DuPont won state titles in 1992 and 1993.

    It was the same in basketball. A seemingly endless string of headlights followed the team wherever it went. People still talk about DuPont's 85-81 win over undefeated Beckley in a state semifinal playoff game before 13,000 at Charleston Civic Center. The game started with Williams penetrating before throwing a behind-the-back pass to Moss for a resounding dunk. "Everybody forgot their troubles and went to the ballgame," Howard said. "It was a real exciting time, and the whole community was involved. You always had baseball, basketball and football to look forward to."

    It was the best of times for DuPont and Rand, but it was about to come to an abrupt end. Simmering racial tensions were about to boil over. DuPont drew students from Rand, which was predominantly black at the time, and other neighboring towns. Students with little or no exposure to African-Americans were bussed in from remote hollows (pronounced "hollers" by locals) where the Ku Klux Klan was once rumored to be active.

    It created a racially explosive dynamic. Only 38 of the 680 students enrolled at the school when Moss attended were black. The elite athletes refused to avoid what was known as "Redneck Alley," the area on the first floor of the school that was supposedly off-limits to black students.

    "They were superstars and they weren't taking no jive from anybody," Singleton said.

    It wasn't Randy Moss' fight. It was his friend who, according to the Kanawha County Sheriff's report, became enraged when he saw his name and a racial epithet scrawled on a desktop. The friend confronted the white student he believed to be responsible on March 23, 1995, and a fight ensued.

    Moss was merely backing his friend when he did something that would change his life forever. Once the white student had fallen to the floor, Moss kicked him between one and four times, according to the police report.

    The white student was hospitalized with internal injuries, and Moss was charged with a felony, which cost him his scholarship to Notre Dame. The case further divided whites and blacks. Many leaders of the black community were convinced that Moss was once again a victim of racism while some whites claimed that the black athletes at DuPont had received preferential treatment after prior incidents, which school officials denied.

    The scars run deep. To this day, whether Moss was treated fairly or unfairly is remains a point of contention in this part of the state.

    "We make up seven percent of the population in this state," said Tony Gordon, a local college basketball star who befriended Moss. "I don't want to bring it up because it's a sore issue but things happened to this kid that hadn't happened to anybody else around here before."

    Moss transferred to Florida State and was a preseason all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection before he had appeared in a game. He was kicked out of school after failing a drug test after smoking a marijuana joint during his work-release program. He was sentenced to jail for the probation violation.

    One fight and one joint cost him two scholarships, three years probation and 63 days in jail.

    "How many fights have happened in the entire country that cost a kid what that fight cost Randy?" asked Lee.

    The Randy Moss who ended up at Marshall and caught 53 touchdown passes in two seasons wasn't the same Randy Moss who starred at DuPont High.

    He felt everyone was watching him, perhaps hoping that he would trip up. He didn't trust anybody. He wouldn't go out with his teammates. He secluded himself. Sometimes his wariness bordered on paranoia.

    "Unless you've been involved in a racial situation you don't understand the hurt and pain it creates," said Moss' longtime friend Gordon.

    A fresh start

    The shed in Singleton's backyard is one of the few places where Moss can let down his guard. He sits in a plastic chair in this cramped room when he visits his hometown. He can spend hours in there, talking, laughing and eating ice cream beneath the miner's helmets and fishing poles.

    "People make the town," Howard said. "You see everybody and remember what it was like growing up. That's what brings you back."

    The people in and around Rand make up Moss' inner circle. They take trips to Moss' homes in Florida and Minnesota. Sometimes they play golf in Charlotte, near where Moss' longtime girlfriend and four children live.

    Singleton does the shopping and prepares three meals per day when he stays with Moss. A fried chicken dinner followed by with apple pie is Moss' favorite.

    Singleton calls it the "No. 84 special." Big Mike is the cleanup man. Jones takes care of the details. They might even have a better time if they could ever get Moss to leave the house. He often spends entire days indoors.

    "It's hard to get into and it's easy to get out of," DiTrapano said of Moss' entourage. "I'm the only person who hasn't been cut off for an extended period."

    Ford calls Moss "Birthday Cake" because if one candle goes out, the party is over. Moss has been known to get angry and send his friends home at a moment's notice. He has also been known to extend a visit by several days, even calling their bosses and asking permission.

    He is the judge and the jury. Use the word "maturity," a word Moss despises, for example, and you might find yourself on probation or worse, exile. Jones is coming off a one-year sentence for what he's still not sure.

    "The biggest mistake you can make is to think you have him figured out," Jones said.

    They have an explanation for every controversy he has found himself embroiled in. Misunderstood. That's the word they use to describe Moss. Like the uproar he created with his mock mooning of Green Bay Packers fans last season. What people don't understand is that Packers fans are notorious for mooning the visiting team's bus when it is leaving Lambeau Field.

    Moss loves playing at Lambeau, they explain. Fans were carrying around a sign poking fun at him, and he decided to have some fun and return the favor.

    "If Brett Favre would've done that, everybody would've thought it was the funniest thing that ever happened," DiPiero said.

    Blown out of proportion is another oft-used phrase. Like the incident involving the female traffic cop he allegedly "nudged" with his car. He was just playing, having fun. As for his infamous "I-play-when-I-want-to-play," statement, well, that was just Randy being Randy. He's not going to tell you what you want to hear. If somebody pushes, he pushes back.

    Friends only reluctantly admit that Moss sometimes is his own worst enemy. "Some of the things we've seen, whether we want to admit it or not, is the aftermath of someone who has been scarred," Lee said. "He's lashing out."

    They want people to know about all the good things Moss has done, like the boy with Down syndrome he befriended in high school or the little girl with leukemia he noticed after a training camp practice during his rookie year.

    She wanted an autograph, and something about her touched him. They became friends, and Moss invited her back to camp year after year. He even visited her in the hospital when she was having a bone-marrow transplant.

    When he found out that one of his old friends from Rand dreamed of becoming a NASCAR driver, he bought him a race car to get him started. He then showed up at the track unannounced to watch his first race.

    Moss takes more than 100 children from in and around Rand to an amusement park in nearby Ohio. The kids got lunch and spending money and a T-shirt that had "Randy Moss Kids Fun Day" on the front and "Keepin' it real" on the back.

    "He's seen a lot of phoniness, and he doesn't want to be that way even if it's to his detriment from a P.R. standpoint," DiPiero said. "So when he does things for kids he does it privately."

    The people here hope the move to Oakland will provide a fresh start. Leave everything that happened to No. 84 -- "it's not eighty-four, it's "eighty-fo," Singleton corrects -- in Minnesota. He's wearing No. 18 for the Raiders now.

    They never have seen Moss so focused and determined. He's worked out harder this offseason than they have ever seen. They don't know what he might be capable of this season, but they can't wait to find out.

    "You just tell people they've got a good man coming out there, and he's going to rip it up," Singleton said from the comfort of his backyard shed.

    Outside, thunder rolled down the valley like a Civil War artillery blast. Down by the river cicadas buzzed among the blackberry brambles.

    It may not look like much to an outsider, this decaying little town where adults glare suspiciously at a stranger driving a rental car while their kids smile and wave, but it's the only place that Randy Moss will ever call home.


    Very interesting.
    "He s done it! Portugal is through!"

  2. #2
    Daunte_Inferno06 Guest

    Re: Great read on Moss, in-depth study of his past.

    Wow very long but interesting read i feel allot closer to RM now lol.

  3. #3
    magicci's Avatar
    magicci is offline Jersey Retired
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    Dec 1969
    oxnard, ca

    Re: Great read on Moss, in-depth study of his past.

    damn where did you find that long article?

  4. #4
    michaelmazid is offline Team Alumni
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    Dec 1969

    Re: Great read on Moss, in-depth study of his past.

    Oh, Hellllll no. I am not reading all of that. can someone give me a short summary. anything I should know that I didn't already?

  5. #5
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: Great read on Moss, in-depth study of his past.

    He doesn't trust many people.

    He comes from a poverty stricken area.

    He is going to tear it up this year.

    There are rusty chain link fences where he lives.

    Nobody knows what Rand is like, what Charleston is like.

    There were some people who were like father figures to him. A guy named Sam paid for his cleats

    A question is posed, what kind of person would you be if you grew up where he did?

    There were a bunch of Rednecks, he was one of a few black people....

    Some redneck scribbled some racial slur about one of Randy's buddies, so his buddy found the guy who he guessed did it. Randy being the poor ghetto kid he was kicked the guy 3 times after his friend had knocked him down.

    The white guy he kicked suffered internal injuries and Moss lost his scholorship to ND.

    "Moss was merely backing his friend" LMFAO!

    Basically in a nutshell, Randy Moss was raised in WV. He was in the minority he was a young black man surrounded by Rednecks. It was a poor area. He was/is a great athlete. He makes some of the worst decisions ever. But they try and justify it by placing blame on his enviroment. But to his credit he does a lot of charity work. Sounds like he is very focused when it comes to that and he is humble about it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 1969

    Re: Great read on Moss, in-depth study of his past.

    Awesome read!!!!! Get off your lazy AZZEZ and read it for cryin' out loud.

  7. #7
    magicci's Avatar
    magicci is offline Jersey Retired
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    oxnard, ca

    Re: Great read on Moss, in-depth study of his past.

    awesome read Del

  8. #8
    DemonicViking is offline Ring of Fame
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    Dec 1969

    Re: Great read on Moss, in-depth study of his past.

    I read much of the same things about Moss from various articles on the 'net and also from sports magazines, but a good read nonetheless.

  9. #9
    TroyWilliamson is offline Starter
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    Dec 1969

    Re: Great read on Moss, in-depth study of his past.

    damn, that was long. but kinda interesting.

  10. #10
    PurplePeopleEaters's Avatar
    PurplePeopleEaters is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Great read on Moss, in-depth study of his past.

    Too lazy to read it all...

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