There was a kitchen that the media and Lions coaches and staff shared in the Pontiac Silverdome executive offices that became busy around meal time.
It was a spring day in 1998 when I stepped into the kitchen and ran into the Lions Director of Pro Personnel Ron Hughes. Outback Steakhouse was grilling burgers and steaks outside while we waited for the press conference to introduce University of Tennessee defensive back Terry Fair to the region.
I engaged Hughes in a little banter and asked how come the Lions were not introducing Randy Moss to the media?
The Lions used the 20th selection of the draft to pick Fair and left Moss on the board who was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the next pick.
I knew Moss had issues at Notre Dame and Florida State. He liked to smoke weed, which is not the worst thing NFL players do. He was a jerk also. A number teams passed on him because of “character issues.” I believed that the Lions could not pass on him because they were losers.
Hughes gave me that “you don’t know anything about football” look. I was lectured how I did not see game film on the two players and finally said “Randy Moss has alligator arms.”
In other words he was afraid of getting hit and dropped passes over the middle. That was one of many blunders by the Lions.
Moss was notified this weekend that he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after catching 982 passes for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns. Fair did make some all rookie teams but did not become the shut down corner and kick return specialist the Lions claimed him to be. He was released by the team after four seasons. He was also released by the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers before calling it a career a year later during an injury-plagued season in St. Louis.
I don’t buy the alligator arms theory. That’s an excuse. The Lions were afraid of Moss and his baggage.
The irony of this is that Fair is best known here for punching a wall in frustration and breaking his hand. The Lions claim it happened in a fit of rage after a loss. I heard it happened in a downtown night club because he was mad at a woman and missed his intended target.