With news that Randy Moss has decided to retire, a few things come to mind.
You knew it was going to be special in New England from that first '07 training camp practice during which Tom Brady and Moss decided to put on a show. It was a clinic -- Brady pumping the ball to Moss repeatedly, the atmosphere electric with thousands of fans "oohing" and "aahing" with each connection.
I had never seen a training camp practice like that before, and haven't seen one since. They just took over.
One aspect that was unforgettable was simply watching Moss run. It was so effortless, looked so smooth that it didn't seem he was going as fast as he was. Then, the next thing you know, he was five yards behind the cornerback, reaching his hands out at the last moment to snare the ball as if he had Velcro on his hands.
Moss ended up tweaking his hamstring and didn't participate in the rest of camp, but anyone who was there that day knew the possibilities for something special were there. You couldn't dream up some of the catches he made.
Then there was the time I was on assignment in West Virginia, the goal to get to know the ultra-guarded Moss better after he had signed an extension with the team. He was hosting a golf tournament, and I followed him around for two days, learning more about where he came from (aka Rand University).
What stood out to me in that environment was the lack of trust Moss had for most people. He was terrific around the kids he was helping in West Virginia, and I think that was because he didn't feel threatened by them. Everyone else, it seemed to him, was out to get him. Watching him interact with the kids, he was a completely different person than who I had seen in the locker room the year before.
Covering Moss was an adventure because you never knew what you were going to get. In interviews, he often led off by telling reporters, "Y'all got three," the idea to limit the questions.
The Patriots got their three from Moss. Three unforgettable years.
He'll go down as one of the most talented, complex players to ever step foot in the team's locker room.