Santana Moss experienced a lot of things during his decade-long stint with the Redskins: A trio of late season runs that ended in playoff berths in 2005, 2007 and 2012, epic victories and awful losses, and a lot of trademark ball-spins and classic first down finger-points. But one thing he didn't have while in D.C.? Stability.
From 2005-2014, the wide receiver played with a litany of quarterbacks and suited up for four coaches — Joe Gibbs for his first three years, Jim Zorn for 2008 and 2009, Mike Shanahan from 2010-2013, and Jay Gruden for his final campaign in 2014. And in an interview with CSNMA, Moss reminisced about some of his former bosses.
So who was his favorite? Well, you could've probably guessed, considering the man has three Super Bowl rings and is hailed as one of the NFL's best leaders in league history.
"For D.C., Gibbs was by far, probably the best," Moss said. "I loved Gibbs, Gibbs was the guy. And I’m not just saying that because he’s a Hall of Famer."
Moss then recalled how, in his first year with Washington, he was very impressed by Gibbs' ability to get players to buy in.
"He found a way to motivate us, and he motivated us by keeping us in pads and keeping us going after each other, and showing us that, when it gets cold, it’s Redskins football," he said. "Just all the determination that he showed, and that he wants to get us to be a part of, it really brought the team together man."
The 36-year old then moved on to give his thoughts on the other men, and delivered a very favorable review of Shanahan, a guy many people in the area aren't so high on. But in Moss' mind, Shanahan was a coach who was worthy of respect and treated his team well.
"I really liked Shanahan," the All-Pro said in a very sure tone. "I liked him. Because I feel like Shanahan allowed you to be a man. He allowed you to show what you’re made of. ‘If you’re not made of anything I can’t play you. Or I won’t play you, I won’t keep you on the team.’ And I liked that about him."
By now, the end to Shanahan's tenure is well-known: His decision to leave Robert Griffin III in the 2012 playoff game against the Seahawks in which he'd ultimately tear his ACL has been questioned and questioned since it happened, and the 2013 version of the Burgundy and Gold failed to replicate the magic they had in the year before. According to Moss, that's a real shame, because he feels like Shanahan could've done much more for the nation's capital.
"You know — for whatever reason, whatever happened to cause that divorce — it’s sad, because I really feel like if he could’ve had that team a few more years, we would’ve had more playoff runs," he said.
Before transitioning to talk about the person currently in charge of the 'Skins (it should be noted that Zorn's name never came up), Moss shared a funny story about Shanahan's son Kyle, who was the offensive coordinator under his father.
"Loved Kyle, too," he said. "Kyle, at first, I didn’t know how to read him. But once I realized Kyle listens to Lil Wayne and stuff like us, I was like, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ Kyle was one of those guys, man, he comes in, listens to his Weezy, and I’m like, ‘OK then, Kyle’s one of us.'"
Finally, Moss took time to evaluate Gruden. Despite expressing some frustration about how his last year in Washington went in terms of how he was used, the wideout still thinks highly of the second-year headman.
"I like Jay," Moss explained. "Jay’s a fun loving dude. He’s a guy that everybody will love. He’s a guy that knuckleheads will try to take advantage of, and then they see the real side come out."
He continued: "I love him, great coach. I have a lot of respect for him and his brother. I liked Jay from when he was in Cincy calling those plays man. So I like him as a coach."
Whenever Moss opens up about anything Redskins-related, it's worth listening to, considering how much he saw while with the organization. Gibbs' reputation has already been cast in stone among the franchise's fans, but hearing Moss support Shanahan and Gruden, two coaches who have legacies that are far from sealed, is interesting. And, if you're looking to be a pro coach one day, Moss has provided you with a solid tip to help break the ice between you and your players.
Blast some Lil Wayne.