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.
Watch Twitch Prime presents WW2 Resistance DLC with Randy Moss & JuJu Smith-Schuster! from Swiftor on www.twitch.tv
Some people look at video games negatively, especially competitive video gaming, but it’s showing that there can be competition on multiple levels in multiple mediums. On a philosophical level, do you think that one competition is more important than the other?
That’s a good question. No, I really don’t because you’re talking about competing. Basically what a lot of guys want to be able to do out here is compete, brag that they’re the top 100 in the world and at the same time make a little bit of money so I think that the way that they’ve been able to stream games for you to be able to compete, I like it, I really do. Actually, I love it. I mean I don’t do it but I think that like you said, if you’ve come through your childhood all the way to adulthood and you’ve been a gamer ever since then that’s a win-win situation, that’s positive. And if you’re able to find a way to get into some money, to make some money off that weekly or something like that, then who would not want to do that? You’re making money playing a video game. Man!
It’s all about making a living out of doing something you love.
Making a living that’s it. I keep telling my son: “man, over my dead body.” But I know some of them out there exist but I hope he’s not just focusing on gaming. But that’s letting you know what I’m putting up there at my house from one kid that, like I said, I’ve thrown consoles away, I’ve given consoles to the Salvation Army, I’ve busted multiple joysticks and games and stuff like that, but at the same time, hey, I was in his same place. Like I say video gaming has definitely evolved for the better and I’m trying to evolve with it.
So when you say, “over my dead body,” but also that you used to be in the same place, do you mean that there are parallels to your parents, who were like, “No, I don’t want you to be a football player when you grow up”?
When I tell you that I mean the only thing my son thinks about is the video games. I mean for real. I’m not trying to be humorous or anything like that. That’s all he loves, video games. That’s it. That is it. So I don’t want him growing up thinking that the video game is it. I mean he’s a sophomore in high school, so if he’s a sophomore in high school, expand your way of thinking. And I’m just thinking that he’s thinking, “hey, if I’m not a video game player I don’t know what the hell I want to be.” That’s not it. So some of the things I’ve had to try to overcome satisfying my son with video games but at the same time trying to let him know that that’s not the only thing that you put your mind and your focus into. But, I do enjoy playing though.
As far as being an athlete is concerned, when you’re playing these games, are there any parallels as far as taking something from the film room or practice in something like that and being able to apply it to video games.
No. Not now. But I think of things like Madden for instance. And Madden has really evolved into the real game of football. Like, the route combinations, how to play the game, how the defenses scheme up things, how you play the quarterbacks, how you throw the ball, you throw it low, you throw it high, you put some loft on it, do you throw a tighter ball. So there’s just a lot and you can really see how far they’ve come to be able to make that look like you’re really watching a real game.
But I just really looked at it from a gamer’s standpoint to see the reason why I enjoy going to pick up a Madden each year, or can’t wait for the new Call of Duty to come out or download the new map or something like that. I mean I enjoy the game, I really do, it keeps me out of trouble, my wife yells at me a little bit but it does keep me out of trouble, so it’s really a good thing that I’m still able to really enjoy playing video games with some of my peers, friends, some of them, and my children also. The main is being able to play with my boys, that’s what I like to do.