Story Time With Santana: Rex Grossman Takes Over For McNabb

Story Time With Santana is a recurring online feature, taking stories from Santana Moss’s appearances with Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. Moss played 10 seasons with the Redskins, and has a lot of stories to share — some untold — and sometimes fills in the gaps of stories to which fans were previously deprived valuable information. This is not one of those times.

The legend of Rex Grossman seems to grow with each passing year he’s out of the NFL.

Grossman’s three seasons in Washington (2010-12) kicked off the Shanahan era with moxy and a flair for the dramatic, both important qualities for a Redskins team which, clearly in retrospect, was rebuilding.

Santana Moss has publicly stated Sexy Rexy was one of his favorite quarterbacks to play with, and to hear the reverence with which he spoke of Grossman on Thursday, it’s not hard to understand why.

“A guy like Rex, all you want is an opportunity,” Moss told Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. “And he was gonna fling that thing out there to you. He didn’t care. Rex would do it sometimes. You’d be like, ‘Why?’ Hey, I thought you could beat ’em.

Moss preferred Grossman’s grip-it-and-rip-it mentality to that of quarterbacks who were more gun shy, because, as Moss tells it, “I’d rather you assume that, ‘Man, he’s gonna make a play.'”

“I went through a lot of those years of having guys who would just hold onto it,” Moss said. “And then now you’re sitting there with three attempts the whole game.

“Rex is saying, ‘I’m throwing 12 times at you. You better catch some of ’em.’ So that’s why I spoke so highly of the guy, and it never was Rex’s fault. I’ve seen him play for a long time, man. He will fling the ball to anyone.”

Dukes: Did you ever go into the huddle and go, ‘Why?’

Moss: Yeah! Plenty of times! Like, ‘Who the hell you throwing to, Rex?’ Rex: ‘Ah, I saw one guy. I didn’t see the other guy.’ I was covered by two!

“He was Mark Brunell in a different body,” Moss said of Grossman. Brunell, who quarterbacked the Redskins under Joe Gibbs from 2004 to 2006, was another Moss favorite. “Mark was a guy — he could run, he was mobile. Even at an old age, Mark was still running around doing things that you do in the sandlot. Rex and Mark had the same mentality about the game, and that’s rare.”

“Some of those guys still exist now in the game, when you see guys like Drew Brees, when you see guys like Brady,” he said. “Mark and [Rex] had that same mentality. They had that, like, ‘I’m gonna beat you. I’m gonna beat you with this arm. I have the best receiver out there, I’m gonna throw it to him. And guess what? If you cover it, next time, we’re gonna find another play and we’re gonna beat you.'”

“That’s what I liked about Rex,” he said. “At the end of the day, his confidence was always up. It was never down. And when he couldn’t run a lick… I’m talking about, we’d be like, ‘Slide! Just slide, bro! You can’t run.’ Cause he was slow as dirt! And I’m like, ‘Rex, you can’t run. Did they give you two left feet?’ He was like, ‘Bro, I don’t know what happened to my wheels. They got left in the mail.'”

Dukes: There was one guy that I know that worked in the locker room doing reporting stuff, and he told me about this conversation that he had with Rex Grossman. And he went up to him — and it was after Rex got benched for the last time, and he never made it back in — but he went up to Rex and said, ‘Hey man. Do you think you’re gonna get another chance to play this year?’

And Rex looked at him and said, ‘If I get back in there, I’m going long.’

Moss (laughing): That’s Rex, man!

Moss revisited a Dec. 2010 divisional game at Dallas to showcase why he loved Grossman so much.

This Week 15 matchup featured the Redskins (5-9) against the Cowboys (5-9) in a game with nothing more to play for than bragging rights. It was nearing the end of Mike Shanahan’s first year in Washington, and turmoil was afoot in Ashburn, as Donovan McNabb had just been benched.

Moss caught eight of 13 targets from Grossman that day, for 72 yards and two touchdowns, and Grossman — who threw four touchdowns and two interceptions (25/43, 322 yards) — nearly brought the Redskins all the way back from a 20-7 first-half deficit.

“Both of my touchdowns was unbelievable,” Moss remembered. “Like, I wasn’t ready for the first one; and the second one, I’m like he’s not gonna throw it, there’s four guys around. I’m going in the opposite direction, and he flings it up! Like, ‘Tana, I knew you could jump. You’ve got a 40-something vertical. I knew you could jump and get it!'”

Moss’s first touchdown came five minutes into the third quarter, with Washington on the opposing 10-yard line, trailing 27-7. Moss ran a read-route — with three cut options to choose from — which they had just practiced for the first time earlier that week.

“We put this route in,” Moss said, recalling a conversation with Kyle Shanahan. “They say, ‘Tana, if the guy sits here, break out. If the guy leaves you, sit down. If the guy goes outside, break in.’ So it’s so much thinking you’re doing at the line of scrimmage. I’m sitting there like, man, show me something fast, cause I’ve got three routes to run on you. I want to make a decision quick.

“The guy didn’t move nowhere. He lined up outside me, so I just put my foot in the ground and turned in. The ball literally hit my thigh pad into my hand, and I walked into the end zone like, ‘Man, that was easy.’ I’m like, ‘Rex, you didn’t give me a chance to run a route.’

“He said, ‘I saw the guy outside. I knew you were coming in!'”

moss touchdown cowboys Story Time With Santana: Rex Grossman Takes Over For McNabb

Moss scores a third-quarter touchdown against the Cowboys on Dec. 19, 2010. (The Washington Post/Contributor)

“So that’s one touchdown,” Moss checked it off the list. “I’m in the zone now. I can’t drop nothing this day, because Rex put me in that zone.”

Now the Redskins are back in the red zone, trailing 30-14 with 13 minutes and 51 seconds to play.

“He’s scrambling,” Moss said of Grossman. “He’s going left. I’m going right! And he just looked and threw it!”

“I didn’t give it a second to think about it,” he said. “I just leaped, and I had guys on my back, you name it. They was grabbing all on me, and I’m bringing it in. I’m like, ‘Rex just threw me this pass around four defenders!'”

The Redskins scored 23 points in the second half, ultimately falling to Dallas, 33-30.

moss touchdown dallas 2010 Story Time With Santana: Rex Grossman Takes Over For McNabb

Moss scores his second touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“That’s why I loved that guy,” Moss said. “He’d give you opportunities, and I ended up having two touchdowns that day.”

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