From the neighborhood kids to an excited uncle to Tommy Wiseau — most everyone loves throwing around the pigskin, but obviously, not everyone is cut out to be in the NFL. With his first-ballot induction into the NFL Hall of Fame, Randy Moss is officially one of the best to ever play the game, but even he knew a bronze bust in Canton was a longshot when he first started. At least there was a path and infrastructure to get to the promised land.
Now gaming has shed most all preconceptions to become one of the most widely enjoyed pastimes of the last three decades, and with that, competitive gaming has reached an echelon once held by early sporting events. Small halls filled with excited viewers have turned into sold-out arenas and bars with fans cheering on their favorite Call of Duty or Overwatch players. The times have been changing, and with it, expectations of where a career in gaming can go. This has led to Moss seeing his own children not want to follow in their father’s footsteps, but those of the best gamers in the world.
We spoke to the legendary wide receiver after he hosted a Call of Duty event based around its latest Resistance DLC with Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, and discussed how gaming has evolved from family room entertainment into a billion dollar industry that’s changed the way we look at traditional sporting competition. And most importantly, how he’s dealing with it as a father.
From one old school gamer to another, you calling the Call of Duty maps “boards” during the stream warmed my heart.
Randy Moss: Yeah man, I’m a gamer, I mess with the games a little bit.
You were damn good at running the stream, you’re looking at the comments, you’re talking to people, you’re sitting there playing. JuJu was telling me you were a top three player on almost every map. Do you play often?
No. I don’t really play a lot, a lot. Mine is just more of, I’ve got kids, they’re playing, I want to stay on top of them. To be honest with you I think a lot of parents are really trying to find different ways to spend quality time with their children and the video game is where it’s at. I mean it’s crazy to say but one of the biggest things I harp on, I tell my sophomore in high school… I mean I’ve taken one video game to the Salvation Army and I’ve thrown another one away, so the number one thing that I preach is, “Hey man, get your grades first, make sure you’ve got your education and your homework done first before you get on this game.” So like I say I’ve tried to find ways to spend quality time with my boys and if the video game is about all I get then I guess I’ll get on with them.
I was speaking with JuJu Smith-Schuster and he’s one of the guys who are really embedded into this streaming lifestyle and playing games for money, which is something that was a pipe dream in the ’80s and ’90s. So what do you think about this as a professional athlete and broadcaster, that this is an actual avenue that people can go down to have a life?
Well, the game has changed and I think it’s changed for the better. It’s crazy that you say that because my sophomore in high school thinks he wants to be a professional video game player. And I say, “son, there’s no such job as that.” But you can’t tell him there’s not one anymore so I think as we grow, we have to be able to stay up to speed with technology and culture and youth and things like that.
So being able to gamble, being able to livestream it, it’s just a part of change, and I think that when you have a guy with notoriety like JuJu, things are only going to go up and up. He’s playing for the Steelers, that’s a highly notarized team, and then he’s out here making plays, so as long as he’s continuing going out here and making plays, and doing the right things out there, any time he’s dreaming and any time he’s pushing live, then he’s going to get that feedback so that’s a good thing.