By Steve Silverman
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The Thanksgiving stage can be a great place for an NFL player to announce his presence.
One of the most memorable performances was provided by Randy Moss in 1998.
In that season, Moss was a rookie with the Minnesota Vikings. His presence made the Vikings perhaps the most prolific offensive team in the history of the game.
That year, the Vikings went 15-1 and were overwhelming favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
They had Randall Cunningham at quarterback and Cris Carter opposite Moss. They ended up blowing the NFC championship in horrendous fashion – placekicker Gary Anderson missed a field goal that would have given the Vikings a two-score lead late in the fourth quarter – and the Atlanta Falcons registered a huge upset.
But on Thanksgiving Day of that season, the Vikings played at Dallas and Moss was a rookie with something to prove.
While he was clearly one of the most talented players in the 1998 NFL draft, he slipped all the way to the Vikings at the No. 21 spot. Moss held a grudge against everyone who let him pass.
However, he had been really upset with the Dallas Cowboys. They had the No. 8 pick in that draft and they selected defensive end Greg Ellis. Moss vowed to make them pay when the Vikings played at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.
Moss put on a remarkable show at Texas Stadium. The Vikings beat the Cowboys 46-36 and Moss caught three TD passes that were all more than 50 yards (51, 56 and 56). His stat line that day: 3-163-3.
Everyone knew Moss was a star, but that was his coming out party.
The Cowboys don’t play at Texas Stadium anymore, but when they host the Washington Redskins at the palace known as Cowboys Stadium and rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, they could feel the brunt of another huge Thanksgiving Day performance.
RGIII is a known commodity in his rookie year and is coming off a spectacular showing Sunday against the Eagles in which he completed 14-of-15 passes for 200 yards with four touchdowns. He also ran 12 times for 84 yards.
RGIII was sharp, explosive and on top of his game. If he can keep it going against the Cowboys, he will begin the process of shifting from excellent rookie to NFL legend.
The Redskins are not going to be a playoff team this year, but with RGIII under center, they are going in the right direction.
The combination of owner Daniel Snyder and head coach Mike Shanahan may not be ideal pair to go with him, but as of right now that’s what RGIII has to work with.
Shanahan is a creative leader, but he’s also set in his ways and he has transferred much of the offense to his son Kyle Shanahan, the team’s offensive coordinator. Again, that may not be an ideal situation to work with.
But on Thanksgiving Day, it could all come together for the Redskins against a Dallas team that needed to go to overtime to beat the lowly Cleveland Browns last week.
The Cowboys may be spent after that game, while the Redskins should be energized after their victory.
Turkey Day and a coming out party. It could be a most memorable one for RGIII, one that brings back memories of Moss’s overpowering Thanksgiving Day show in his rookie season.
Will RGIII’s performance be the talk of Thanksgiving? Sound off in the comments below!