Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
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Throughout the existence of 'Our Sports Report', we have been very open about our love for ESPN's 30 for 30 sports documentary series. The series has covered everything from O.J. Simpson and the white Ford Bronco to the start of fantasy sports, and in my opinion, each of them are incredible in their own right. The most recent documentary was released to the public on Tuesday night in a film titled, Rand University that spotlighted the childhood, struggles and growth of maybe the most talented receiver in football history, Randy Moss.
The former All-Pro receiver grew up in Rand, West Virginia (ironic, right?) where he shined in multiple athletics at nearby Dupont High School. Between basketball, baseball and track & field, Moss was one of the best, but when it came to football, that is where "The Freak" truly excelled. Coming into his senior year, Moss was one of the most highly touted prospects in the country. After committing to play football at Notre Dame, life became a blur. Over the next two years, Moss spent time in jail for his role in a fight and even tested positive for marijuana. Those acts lead to being dismissed from Notre Dame and Florida State’s football programs, and for the kid that just wanted to get out of Rand, it seemed that there was nowhere else to go.
You see, Rand, West Virginia is just like every other small town in this country. Everybody knows everybody, the town shuts down on Friday nights during football season and when most people get set to graduate, they never want to come back. Some will live the glory of Rand University while in high school because they don’t want to move on, but that wasn’t Randy. Moss wanted to go somewhere else for college and gain a whole new experience. When it seemed as if Rand University had gained another student, Marshall University saved Randy Moss.
Allowing the 6’4” lightning-quick athlete to perform on the gridiron for the Thundering Herd, Moss won a NCAA Division I-AA National Championship, earned the Fred Biletnikoff Award for being the nation’s best receiver in 1997, became a Heisman Trophy finalist, and most of all, was a first round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in the 1998 NFL Draft. It’s true that Moss has always had an attitude, but if it wasn’t for Marshall and Moss’s drive to prove Rand University and the state of West Virginia wrong, we may have never known of Randy Moss.
I know it seems crazy to say, but there are so many Randy Moss’s out there. I’ll never forget when I graduated from high school; I never thought I would be back. I was going off to chase a dream and prove the world wrong. Now, I never got into any trouble or did anything stupid like Moss, but one by one, my dreams and goals just kept slipping through my fingers, and I didn’t understand why. Before you know it, I was back home and didn’t know if I would ever succeed. But just like Marshall University did to Moss, somebody believed in me and gave me my shot.
I never thought that I would be a sales manager for a landscaping company or announcing athletics for a small Division III college, but you can bet that I am taking my opportunities every day to show the world what I am capable of. Have I reached all of the goals and expectations that I have set for myself? Absolutely not, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t continue working hard every day to show the people around me how much I appreciate my current opportunities and future ones as well. I guess at the end of the day, Randy Moss and Curt Ashcraft aren’t so different after all.
With over 15,292 receiving yards, 156 touchdowns, seven Pro Bowls and 2 NFL records under his belt, it’s amazing to think that Randy Moss could’ve been the best that never was, but he wasn’t. Rand University will always be home, but just like Randy Moss, his dreams didn’t stop there, and neither should yours.