MINNEAPOLIS -- For as brilliant as Adrian Peterson has been on the field for the Minnesota Vikings, there probably hasn't been an athlete in the team's history who could match Randy Moss for sheer explosiveness. The wide receiver tore through the NFL with such force as a rookie, scoring 17 touchdowns for a team that set the league's single-season scoring record on the way to the NFC Championship Game, that he almost single-handedly forced defenses to change their approach to pass coverage.
The Tampa 2 defense, and bracket coverage with a cornerback and safety, rose to prominence as teams searched for ways to take away the most dominant vertical threat in the game. A year after Moss tore through them for 343 yards in two matchups, the Green Bay Packers -- who had won 37 games and been to two Super Bowls in the previous three seasons -- used their top three draft picks on cornerbacks, ostensibly to deal with the receiver who would go on to torment them for six more seasons.
And yet Moss remained an enigma to people in Minnesota, either because of his acts of indifference (loafing on plays that weren't designed for him, famously stating, "I play when I want to play," walking off the field early during a 2004 loss to the Redskins), aggression (bumping a Minneapolis traffic officer with his car, berating corporate sponsors in 2001) or petulance (squirting an official with a water bottle during a 2000 playoff game, pretending to moon Packers fans during a 2005 playoff game). Marveling at his on-field feats was easy; understanding what made him tick was not.
That's largely why I'm excited to watch Marquis Daisy's film, "Rand University," which premieres at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday night on ESPN as part of ESPN's "30 For 30" documentary series. The film spends plenty of time looking at Moss' hometown of Rand, West Virginia, and why he made it out of an environment that has seen many other athletes fall by the wayside. Moss' career often pivoted on his personal troubles, and his assertion at Super Bowl XLVII that he was better than Jerry Rice fell flat in part because there was a feeling Moss left something on the table. It's why he's still so fascinating -- more than nine years after the Vikings traded him to Oakland and four years after his ill-fated return to Minnesota -- and a look at the forces that shaped him promises to be fascinating.