By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Could this be the year Randy Moss finally wins the big one?
Much has been made of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis’ potential ride into the sunset with a victory in next Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII, but one storyline that has been overlooked is if the former Thundering Herd receiver could be making that ride instead of Lewis.
The 14-year NFL veteran will get a second chance to win the one prize that has eluded him for his entire career — a Super Bowl ring.
This won’t be Moss’ first rodeo, so to speak. The former DuPont and Marshall All-American had a chance to make the history books in Super Bowl XLII when the seemingly unbeatable New England Patriots took on the wild card New York Giants.
However, fate wasn’t on the side of Moss, as his go-ahead touchdown with 2:42 left on a 7-yard pass from Tom Brady wouldn’t be enough to help the Pats go 19-0. Eli Manning connected a pass with Plaxico Burress in the back of the end zone with 35 seconds remaining to pull off the 17-14 upset.
The tumultuous career of Moss seemingly came to an end after a less than remarkable 2010 season that saw Moss surprisingly cut from the Patriots and a disastrous stint with the team that first took a chance on him in the Minnesota Vikings. However, after sitting out the 2011 season, Moss made his intentions clear that he had unfinished business to take care of.
“I wanna play football. Your boy is going to come back here and play some football, so I’m really excited. I had some things I had to adjust in my life,” Moss said in a Feb. 13 video chat on Ustream.
Just one month after announcing his intentions to return to the league, Moss worked out with Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers and was signed to a one-year contract. While the veteran Moss isn’t putting up the numbers he so famously put up early in his career, he surpassed Terrell Owens to become 2nd on the all-time receiving touchdowns list with a touchdown pass from Alex Smith on Sep. 9. He currently has three touchdown receptions this season and 434 yards. While initially viewed as a role player for the Niners, Moss has seen his role dramatically increase following the loss of receiver Mario Manningham to a season-ending knee surgery.
While Moss has yet to comment on his future following the Super Bowl, Harbaugh has gone on record hoping he will return for a 15th season.
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Moss won’t be the only player on the field during the Super Bowl who spent their college career wearing the kelly green and white. Each team will have two players from the Thundering Herd; Baltimore’s Omar Brown and Albert McClellan and San Francisco’s Moss and CJ Spillman.
Brown, an undrafted rookie, made waves with a solid preseason and has found his way onto the field several times this season, and seems to have a real nose for the ball. Ravens safety Ed Reed recently compared Brown to a future hall-of-fame defensive back - himself.
“Everybody on this team knows this guy will be around the football, and that’s what you want,” Reed said. “He reminds me of myself when I was that age.”
McClellan, a 6-foot-2, 245 lb outside linebacker currently in his second season has also found playing time for the staunch Baltimore defense, recording 49 tackles, 1 sack and a forced fumble.
Spillman, who joins Moss in San Francisco, is in his fourth season in the league and has become one of the most heralded special teams players in the league. He has 11 tackles this season.
Marshall’s four alumni in the game are tied with Oregon, Texas, Utah and Ohio State for second most players. Miami has five players, including Baltimore’s Reed and Ray Lewis, and San Francisco’s Frank Gore.
Not to be outdone, there are three cheerleaders for the Baltimore Ravens with ties to the state. Jamie A., was a cheerleader for WVU while Jo T. and Whitney J. performed for the Thundering Herd.
— E-mail: jrollins@
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