Echoes of Vikings history reverberated off the walls at Winter Park on Wednesday.
The team announced former receivers Randy Moss and Ahmad Rashad as the next members of the team’s ring of honor, which now holds 23 players. For Moss, it was his first trip back to the Vikings training facilities in Eden Prairie since the team cut him in 2010.
Both former NFL stars addressed the team after Wednesday’s minicamp practice.
Rashad, on crutches and recovering from an ankle procedure, cautioned current Vikings to savor every moment of their football careers. He even recalled a moment that a former Viking could most appreciate.
“Even standing here, I remember down there on the corner Bud Grant used to put deer licks down there,” Rashad said.
Even the not-so-warm history is held in better perspective now that time has passed.
Moss was all smiles as he took the podium. His name now will be displayed inside U.S. Bank Stadium and his jersey hangs in a hall of Winter Park alongside greats like Alan Page and Randall McDaniel. He is also on the Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year.
“I love the game so much and I sacrificed so much,” Moss said. “I really, honestly, think I got traded out of here because I only cared about the game of football. I know that really seems weird and sounds weird, but I didn’t really do anything outside of the game of football.”
His legacy etched in the minds of current players, they paid rapt attention when Moss addressed them after practice Wednesday, imploring them to not rest on their laurels and offering words of encouragement.
“You’re looking good out there,” Moss told cornerback Xavier Rhodes. “Do your thing.”
Moss did his thing in Minnesota for seven seasons and part of another. Five of those years included at least 1,200 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Moss captivated the league in 1998, when his 17 touchdowns won him NFL Rookie of the Year honors and powered the Vikings to a 15-1 record. Moss went on to be third in league history with 15,292 receiving yards.
Moss first left when he was traded to Oakland in 2005. Five years later, the Vikings reacquired Moss from New England, where a few weeks later he criticized then-coach Brad Childress and teammates following a loss to the Patriots. Childress waived Moss two days later.
“I think that sometimes my passion for the game got in the way of the business side of it,” Moss said. “You live and you learn, you mature. I think I lived and learned from a lot of my mistakes.”
Moss shed a tear when recalling Dennis Green, who drafted Moss with the 21st overall pick in 1998 and coached him for four seasons. Green died last summer at 67.
“What would I say to him [today]? Man, I’d probably just fall in his arms and give him a hug,” Moss said. “The man passed away without me really, really, really giving him my love and thanks for what he was able to do for me and my family, man. There was a lot of teams out there that passed on me for wrong reasons. Coach Green gave me that opportunity.”
Rashad, seventh on the Vikings’ all-time receiving list with 5,489 yards, famously grabbed the Hail Mary pass from Tommy Kramer in the “Miracle at the Met,’’ a come-from-behind win against the Cleveland Browns that won a division title and clinched a playoff spot in 1980. The Pro Bowl receiver became a sports broadcaster after his playing career.
“I’ve won Emmy awards, I’ve won receiving titles and all those kinds of things, but this is closer to my heart,” Rashad said. “I always say once a Viking, always a Viking.”