Thaddeus Moss, son of legendary wide receiver Randy Moss, waited in nervous anticipation for the phone call that would change his life. Three days passed, 255 names were called and his wasn’t one of them.
The disappointing experience was “a slap in the face,” according to the rookie tight end, who turned 22 on Thursday and says he has grown up with a “target” on his back.
“Having picked kickers and punters, special-teams guys getting picked over me, I definitely felt some type of way over it,” Moss said in a video conference call on Wednesday. “It’s no difference. I’ve always had to prove myself my whole life, having the last name I have. I always had to prove everybody wrong or just prove myself right my whole life.”
After the 2020 NFL Draft was over, his agent called to let the undrafted free agent know that he had attracted the attention of three teams, but all the younger Moss wanted to know was who called first.
“That’s what I was going to go with and stick with,” he said of the reason why he turned down the Patriots and Bengals in favor of the Redskins, who need to fill a tight end void and were the first to call.
“Thaddeus was a productive guy,” Washington’s vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith said. “It was really a no-brainer to sign him.”
The Moss name and legacy attract instant attention which Thaddeus says he embraces, but being NFL royalty can have its drawbacks.
“Having the last name that I have, people think I was handed a lot of things, but it’s the opposite,” he said. “People ask me what are pros and cons, and that’s definitely a con to it. But I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work for everything, and whatever my NFL career is, you’ll have to respect it because I worked for everything. I wasn’t given anything.”
The elder Moss, 43, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018 and now serves as a NFL analyst for ESPN. Over his 14-season career, he tallied 982 catches for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns.
“I’m just tired of the comparisons,” Thaddeus said. “This is no different than what I had to do my whole life. … Everybody keeps mentioning my father, mentioning his last name, but just the identity I want to make is my own identity. I look forward to making a name for myself.”
The 6-foot-3, 249-pound LSU product caught 47 passes for 570 yards and four touchdowns in 2019, and reeled in two touchdowns in the 2020 CFP National Championship game against Clemson. Moss missed the 2018 season and recently underwent foot surgery, however, which could have played a role in teams’ apprehension towards drafting him.
Many athletes have used early setbacks to fuel their motivation. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. He named his newest business endeavor “199 Productions” as an homage to the late position at which he was taken.
“The last name Moss, people have always had their eyes on me and always doubted me. They wanted to see what I can do. They always have expectations. This is no different,” Thaddeus said. “I’ve always had a target on my back my whole life growing up. I’ve grown accustomed to it. You use it as fuel.”
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