Helmet Off: Santana Moss Talks Football, Fatherhood and Finding New Purpose

Although his NFL football playing days are behind him, former Washington Redskins wide receiver (#89) Santana Moss still leads a pretty busy and full life.

The 40-year-old father of five spends most of his days moving from work on his foundation to recording a podcast, to his work as an NBC sports analyst, to a radio talk show, to his afternoon workout.

No stranger to hard work, Moss began his younger athletic journey running and jumping out of the inner city neighborhoods of Miami to a track scholarship at the University of Miami, where he was also a walk-on to the football team his freshman year.

Even though his track scholarship was converted to a football scholarship after the third game of his freshman season, he ran track all four years, saying “Track is what got me in, so I stuck with it all four years,” eventually winning the triple jump at the 2000 Big East Championships, with a personal-best mark of 15.50 meters. His accomplishments as a wide receiver for the Miami Hurricanes earned him All American Honors in 2000 as well as induction into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.

Moss was a first-round pick in the 2001 NFL draft by the New York Jets, where he played until 2004 when he was traded to the Washington Redskins. He came out with a bang in week two of the 2005 season, with two touchdowns to beat the Dallas Cowboys 14-13, in a game that is now known as the “Monday Night Miracle.” The 2005 season proved to be one of his most successful, with Moss garnering All-Pro Honors and being selected to his first Pro-Bowl.


Since trading in his football helmet, Santana Moss remains “a fine-tuned athlete,” working hard and working out to keep up with his five children, who he wants to grow up “to be responsible and to be accountable.” He says that it is important for his kids to know “how to push through and how to work.”

Moss knows a thing or two about pushing through, having overcome spine issues in high school, where he was always being told he was too short to be a wide receiver. He still counts his high school football coach Walt Frazier as one of his mentors, along with his fifth grade PE teacher, Mr. Brown, who told him one day when watching him play football on the playground at recess, “I’m going to hear your name ten years from now.” Moss says that Brown’s simple statement “ignited everything in me” from that moment on.


His role models didn’t all come from the sports world, though. Moss credits his parents with keeping him on the right path during his formative years. His parents worked hard to take care of him and his siblings, including his younger brother Sinorice, former wide receiver for the New York Giants. Moss says that he learned from his father, a corrections officer, “how to be a man and how to work hard to take care of your kids.”

It is that spark and purpose that still burns in Moss as he aspires to give back to the Loudoun community with his foundation, 89 Ways to Give, which sponsors coat drives, food drives and school supply drives for inner city children. He wants to be a mentor for those kids who are struggling, trying to “catch them before it’s too late.”

As a professional athlete with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Miami, he wants student athletes to know that “school has to be first, and sacrifices have to be made to do both.” This is reinforced in his Moss Academy Football Camp held each summer, where he teaches kids the fundamentals of football, but where they are also taught by local business people about “teamwork and that you have to be cohesive enough to move efficiently through your life.” He says that it is important for kids to know that they have “to want more and they have to do more” to reach their goals.

Santana Moss isn’t resting on his laurels, nor is he spending a lot of time watching films of his 14-year NFL career. He has made his home in the D.C. area, home of the Redskins, the place where he met with some of his greatest successes.

As for the future, Moss hopes to continue doing what he is doing, which he says is to “live my life every day — not for the future — but for that day itself, to continue to be successful.” He attributes his positive attitude to one of his greatest strengths: the ability to see in his mind “the bright side of everything, even when things are cloudy.”


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