Lost in the discussion of the team’s slow start is the steady, reliable performance of veteran receiver
With five more receptions, Moss becomes the ninth active player in the NFL to reach 700 career receptions.
With his receptions, he will pass all-time great Gary Clark (549) for third in team history for career receptions as a Redskin.
With 29 more receiving yards to become the fourth player in team history to amass 7,500 Redskins receiving yards (Clark, Art Monk, Charley Taylor).
With so many milestones at his fingertips, Moss would be well within his right to sit back and admire his legacy with the Washington Redskins.
But that can and will have to wait for another time as Moss still has too much to accomplish in the moment.
“I probably will down the road. All that stuff will come one day when I can sit back and reflect but right now my main goal is to continue to get better and focus on how I can be my best for the team,” he said, shaking his head in front of his locker. “Right now my main focus is to continue to get better and grow as a receiver.
“You would probably think it’s hard for a 13-year veteran to continue to get better and to continue to learn, but I learn every day.”
Moss has made an unmistakable impact on the Redskins in the 2000s, developing from an uncatchable deep threat operating on the fringe of the offense, to a wily veteran capable of exploiting soft spots in the coverage anywhere on the field.
For any decrease in raw physical talent with age, the 34-year-old receiver has compensated with his cerebral mastery of the game.
“I think what is helping me grow is having a whole new outlook on how you can grow at that position,” he said. “As far as learning a lot more on how I can beat a guy, being on the inside and different things I can do with my God-given talent.”
Unbelievably, Moss’ God-given talent was once questioned in New York, where he was a hard-luck youngster trying to live up to his draft billing with the New York Jets.
“The media got on me earlier when I had my injury,” Moss said, referring to the series of leg injuries he suffered as a rookie. “Being a kid, not knowing how to handle myself and not playing a full year of football was tough.”
For a young Moss, New York was a long way from his home and alma mater in Miami, Fla., and the character assassination in the media made the Big Apple unbearable.
“I took it to heart, and I got down on myself,” he admitted, thinking back. “One guy in the media picked on me; I don’t know why. It could have been something about Miami but it wasn’t me because I treated everybody with the same respect.”
But the negative attention was a net positive for the talented youngster, as Santana Moss hardened his resolve and learned the business side of the NFL.
After just two years in New York, the former top prospect was sent packing to Washington in exchange for Laveranues Coles. With a clean bill of health and a fresh start, Moss had the perfect situation to thrive.
“I found out early you go through those things for a reason. It helped me be the person I am and the player I am,” Moss said. “When I step out there on the field, it gave me another chip on my shoulder. It gave me something else for me to go out and prove.”
Not surprisingly, Moss made an immediate impact for the Redskins, catching four passes for 96 yards in his first game in the burgundy and gold.
He finished his first season in the nation’s capital with 84 receptions for 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns. Better yet, he finally had the support of a fan base hungry for a playmaker.
“Fans were pleased with what I did,” he said with a shrug. “I learned that after I left New York, when you get the feedback from the fans. The media and fans gave me a chance to be who I can be.”
Dubbed “The Cowboy Killer” by fans, Moss has had some of his best games against the Redskins archrivals, the Dallas Cowboys. His performance against the division rivals helped bring pride back to Washington, revitalizing a once-sagging rivalry with 84 receptions for 1,189 yards and seven touchdowns.
Through all of the good times and lean years, one constant has been the reliable play of No. 89.
“Once you have been playing this game as long as I have, you realize that there are things that you are going to have to deal with everyday differently,” he explained. “That’s why I never look at anything that has been done.
“I always try to look ahead and try to be better because you can’t look at last year or last month.”
Letting the memories fade from his mind, Moss collected his practice gear and began to prepare himself for yet another day of practice in the NFL. Helmet, mouth guard, gloves, cleats, pads and jersey, and the all-important chip on his shoulder.
Hard-earned milestones lie ahead for Santana Moss, but that doesn’t help him prepare for another day of practice. As quickly as the topic is discussed, it is forgotten.
“It’s amazing. Like I said before, I probably will look back and reflect,” he said. “But really, that stuff doesn’t come to mind until you all tell me about it.”