Washington Redskins rookie tight end Thaddeus Moss wants to do what any other pass-catcher does: create separation. The difference is, he wants separation from his father’s Pro Football Hall of Fame legacy.
Moss said he’s not tired of the questions about his last name and what his father, Randy, accomplished as an NFL receiver. But the younger Moss wants to create his own identity.
“I’m just tired of the comparisons,” he said. “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 Redskins signed Moss as an undrafted free agent out of LSU moments after the NFL draft ended. There was a simple reason Moss picked them: They were the first of three teams to call, dialing him faster than Cincinnati and New England.
Moss called going undrafted “a slap in the face to me.”
“Having picked kickers and punters, special-teams guys getting picked over me, I definitely felt some type of way over it,” he said. “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.”
Washington presents an opportunity for Moss. The Redskins lack a definite starter at the position, but did sign veterans Richard Rodgers and Logan Thomas this offseason to pair with another vet, Jeremy Sprinkle.
Moss missed the 2018 season after breaking a bone in his foot, but he caught 47 passes for 570 yards and four touchdowns in 2019, including two TDs in the national championship game against Clemson. He underwent foot surgery a week after the draft, but he hopes to be ready whenever the Redskins can get back on the field.
As he watched the draft with his dad, sensing that he wouldn’t get picked, Moss knew what to tell his father.
“He was sitting there, not knowing what to say to me,” Moss said. “I said look, this is no different than what I had to do my whole life. 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.
“Having the last name that I have, people think I was handed a lot of things, but it’s the opposite. 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.”
Even his father, who retired after the 2012 season with 982 receptions and 156 for touchdowns, made him work. Randy Moss, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018, served on the coaching staff for his son’s high school, Victory Christian Center School in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Thaddeus Moss said his father, now an NFL analyst for ESPN, wasn’t always “in his ear” with advice, but would provide support and tips when necessary. However, when Randy Moss coached at his son’s school, it meant many car rides — and football talk.
“The critique I get on television is not gonna be worth the critique that I got with him being at the house or being in the car together,” Thaddeus said. “I would hear it from him. So nah, he can only say so much on TV; I’m not worried about that.”
Nor is he truly worried about any additional attention focused on him because of his last name. He might want his own identity, but that doesn’t mean he’d prefer a different last name.
“I embrace it a lot,” Moss 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.”