Scrutiny, Attention In New York Helped Santana Moss Grow As A Person
ASHBURN – After four years at Miami, one of the most high-profile, heavily scrutinized schools in the nation when it comes to college football, Santana Moss began his career with the New York Jets in 2001 assuming he had everything figured out.
Moss left the Hurricanes as the all-time leader in both receiving and all-purpose yards, owning to a standout career where he became, at the time, the first player to win the Big East’s offensive and special teams player of the year awards in the same season. He also received three first-place votes in balloting for the Heisman Trophy, in which he finished seventh.
As a first-round pick in that year’s NFL Draft, much was expected from Moss. When he arrived in New York, however, it was vastly different than what he had ever experienced. He went from being the top guy in Miami to buried on the depth chart for the Jets, appearing only in five games and catching just two passes on the year.
His second year, 2002, was much better, having played in all but one game. In 2003, Moss surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the first time, and by 2004, he was a full-time starter.
“I had fun,” Moss said. “Four years went so fast. I feel like I went to college, did my four years and left. But I have so many memories.”
Moss was then traded to the Washington Redskins in exchange for Laveranues Coles and became, over the next six seasons, the team’s leading receiver. He’ll face his former team for the second time on Sunday when the Redskins play the Jets at FedEx Field, following the teams’ meeting in 2007.
“I feel like I gave it my all and I think they knew that,” Moss said. “I knew it was my time to go, and since I’ve been here, I’ve never really looked back.”
One of Moss’s biggest difficulties in the adjustment to New York was dealing with the constant attention that came with being in the nation’s largest media market. As a highly regarded player who wasn’t seeing much time as a freshman, he preferred to shy away from speaking to reporters and admittedly didn’t understand the dynamic between the media, the team and its followers.
“I went out there and played good football and I kind of stayed away,” Moss said. “I was young and I didn’t really know. When I left there, being there, it made me grow up.”
Since arriving in Washington, he’s become one of the team’s most familiar and marketable faces, and twice won the team’s “Good Guy” award, given annually by the Pro Football Writers of America to a player who exhibits the most professionalism in dealing with the media.
“I’m cherishing these moments,” Moss said. “Even though we haven’t been great and even though we haven’t been to the playoffs in a few years, I still enjoy coming to work here and I still enjoy doing what I do.”