Randy Moss plays in his namesake horseshoe tournament at Coonskin Park
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- He's one of West Virginia's two or three greatest athletes, arguably the second best wide receiver who ever lived, an unprecedented combination of size and speed, but Randy Moss talked a little trash Saturday morning, riled his opponent and got soundly beaten in athletic competition.
Moss and his horseshoe partner, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, were already losing when their opponent, Jeff Weems, of Rand, let fly a horseshoe and an expletive at the same time.
The shoe had slipped out of Weems' hand, and he expressed his frustration as it flew through the air at Coonskin Park. But sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
Moss lost a Super Bowl when an unknown receiver miraculously trapped a football against his helmet, and he lost a horseshoe match when Weems' slip-up turned into a dead ringer, good for three points.
"He threw one lucky ringer," Moss said, shaking his head as the game continued.
That didn't sit well with Weems.
His next toss, after Moss called him lucky, struck bulls-eye.
"Is that luck, what you say dog?" Weems taunted. "Bam. Don't piss me off."
Moss could only shake his head sheepishly, especially when Weems' next toss found the pin too, for two straight ringers after Moss started talking.
"I was trying to be cool, but somebody started talking a little trash," Weems said.
Moss was good-natured in defeat.
"He done put two back-to-back around my dadgum neck," Moss said. "You threw them two back-to-back necks, I just said, 'ewwwww.';"
Moss and Jones were one of 13 teams that participated in the Randy Moss "Country Boy" Horseshoe Tournament on Saturday morning at Coonskin Park.
Moss organized the tournament, put up a $1,000 prize for the winners and invited Jones earlier this week.
The tournament was limited to those ages 30-and-over.
"Time and time again, all the years that I've done things for the kids, it was like the adults were left out." Moss said. "So I just decided to have a 30-and-over get together, just to come out for a nice day to pitch some horseshoes. I mean it's hot, but everybody can come out here and use a little exercise."
Moss was chatty and comfortable with the other competitors and the 25 or so spectators.
"What's that stick?" Moss asked an older man who was holding a crooked wire.
The man showed Moss how he used the wire to pick up horseshoes without having to bend over, explaining, "I'm an old man."
"I learn something every day," Moss said, laughing.
Jones, who first met Moss in the 1990s, was surprised and flattered that Moss remembered him and invited him.
"Randy always just thinks about others and he's doing that now," Jones said. "He just likes to hang out with regular folks."
The timing was fortuitous. Jones is headed to St. George, Utah later this week to the world tournament of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association, to try to pitch them on holding a convention in Charleston.
But if Charleston's chances depend at all on Jones' horseshoe skills, the city is very unlikely to get the convention.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was roundly mocked for his poor golf game when he played a round with Bubba Watson at The Greenbrier resort earlier this month.
It's not unfair to either executive to say that Tomblin is to golf as Jones is to horseshoes. Neither can play at all.
"We going to do something," Moss said when asked about playing with Jones. "We just can't go out in the first round."
Moss scored the lone three points in his and Jones' 21-3 defeat to Weems and his partner.
Wayne "Poochie" Rollins, another competitor, was quick to analyze Moss' game,
"He throws pretty decent. He got a flip, two or three flips," Rollins said, referring to how many times Moss' horseshoes rotated in the air.
"In St. Albans we take our horseshoe pitching real, real seriously," said Rollins, who plays competitively twice a week. "When I was a kid we pitched in front of the skating rink, dusk 'til dawn."
Moss, who currently lives in Boston, but is spending much of the summer in his native Kanawha County, wasn't interested in talking about whether his football career will continue. He made the Super Bowl last year after taking a year off from football, but the San Francisco 49ers decided not to bring him back and he is a free agent.
Moss' fellow horseshoe throwers were not nearly so reticent about talking about his football future.
"I'd like to see him go back to Minnesota," said Junior Peters, of Naoma, who ended up winning the tournament. "I think everybody's a fan of Randy. Everybody from West Virginia."
After giving Moss modest praise for his horseshoe prowess, Rollins backtracked.
"He better stick with football," Rollins said. Reach David Gutman at email@example.com or 304-348-5119.