While Minnesota Vikings legend Randy Moss maintains his fierce competitiveness, recently claiming to be the greatest receiver in NFL history, Moss’ reaction to Justin Jefferson’s historic rookie season carries a more endearing tone.
Jefferson broke the Super Bowl-era record for receiving yards and set franchise records for receiving yards (1,400), receptions (88) and 100-yard games (7), passing marks established by Moss during his 1998 Offensive Rookie of the Year run.
The Vikings Entertainment Network held a virtual roundtable discussion with all four Vikings wide receivers who have won Offensive Rookie of the Year in Moss, Percy Harvin (2009), Sammy White (1976) and Paul Flatley (1963).
Jefferson has made a compelling case to join the illustrious club and will learn the Associated Press’ decision on Feb. 6. Regardless of the results, Jefferson’s rookie campaign has catapulted the 21-year-old into both the league and franchise record books.
“It’s amazing to be talking to these guys,” Jefferson said. “The things they [did] and the things I watched them do, it’s amazing to talk to them and be in the same conversation with them.”
Moss took the opportunity to share his excitement in Jefferson, who played with Moss’ son, Thaddeus Moss, at LSU, as Minnesota looks to have another star wide receiver in the making.
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Moss: ‘Just Coming From My Heart, I am Proud of You’
Moss, who now works as an ESPN broadcaster, shared the excitement he’s observed around the league regarding Jefferson and the Vikings.
“I’m just going to tell you, there’s a lot of excitement around the Minnesota Vikings. A lot of excitement with you just being there. I’m just happy to see another wide receiver come and put his foot in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings,” Moss said. “It’s always good to see Minnesota have a guy making a name for himself as a wide receiver. When I say I’m proud of you, I mean it. I can’t express it enough. Just coming from my heart, I am proud of you.”
Harvin echoed Moss’ message while watching Jefferson throughout the 2020 season.
“Electric. Nothing but electric. I enjoy watching him play and I’m going to continue to watch him play. It’s been a joy, big dog, keep it up,” Harvin said.
Jefferson, who had the chance to watch Harvin play during his college days at Florida, lauded the opportunity to speak to two of his idols growing up.
“These guys are amazing. I wanted to be just like them. My brother played at LSU, too, so I had seen Percy play a couple times at Florida. I fell in love with that atmosphere and SEC football,” Jefferson said. “Watching these guys on film and the different routes they ran and the aggression they played with, I just wanted to [model] my game right after these guys.”
White & Flatley Leave Jefferson With Advice for the Future
White and Flatley played in a much different NFL than today’s league with both former Vikings winning the Rookie of the Year award with under 1,000 receiving yards. While the modern NFL is faster and features more air raid offenses than ever before, there were a few pieces of advice they left Jefferson that still apply in 2021.
“Just believe in yourself and continue what you’re doing. Everything will fall into place,” White said. “Just keep doing what you’re doing, and it will happen for you. It’s our position, so it’s got to happen.”
Flatley emphasized the importance of improvising and being creative to help the team.
“Work as hard as you can, and be as creative as you can, because a lot of things don’t happen as they’re diagramed to be. If you can create a situation and provide your team and yourself with a better opportunity, that’s what you need to do. Be creative.”
While Jefferson said winning Offensive Rookie of the Year would be a blessing, the experience he’s had his rookie year is already enough.
“Just being in conversation with these guys and having my name under these guys, it means so much,” Jefferson said. “This is probably one of the best rookie classes of all-time, so to say I’m leading all rookie receivers in yards… and being up for [Offensive] Rookie of the Year… it’s really a blessing. It’s a true blessing, and I couldn’t ask for anymore.”
You can watch the full roundtable discussion here.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.