April Fool’s prank or not, the news that former Minnesota Vikings great Randy Moss had signed on to play goalkeeper for the Charlotte Independence of the USL got us thinking: What if Moss and other Minnesota sports greats of yesteryear and today ditched had their jerseys for kits at the start of their sports’ careers?
Randy Moss, Minnesota Vikings — Target forward
Charlotte may have tabbed Moss as a goalkeeper for his size and incredible hands, but that’s wasting half his skillset. For any Vikings fan who watched him in his heyday, there can be no doubt that there was no receiver who combined speed, size and awareness the way Moss did. In a sport where the 6’7” Peter Crouch is a giant, the 6’4” Moss would make a near-ideal target forward, especially when combined with the speed to make runs into the box and receive crosses.
Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves — Center back (Sweeper)
Sure, the sweeper as a concept in soccer has fallen out of favor, but if anything could bring it back, it would likely be the sight of the – according to Flip Saunders – 6’13” Kevin Garnett (who's already a Chelsea fan) prowling the box and shutting down absolutely everything that came his way. No attacking player would ever win another header against him and his preternatural sense of positioning on the defensive end of the court would make for a smooth transition to running the back line. Downside: Might bang his head into the goalposts to get hyped up for the match and suffer a concussion.
Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins — Striker
Standing 6’5” and with a prodigious level of efficiency when it comes to making contact with the ball — he struck out once in his entire high school career at Cretin-Derham — Saint Paul’s own Joe Mauer could’ve made a heck of a striker in his prime. Given that he averaged 20 points per game as a point guard and threw for 3,022 yards and 41 touchdowns as the Raiders’ quarterback his senior year in high school, is it such a stretch to imagine him knocking in headers off set pieces?
Lorne "Gump" Worsley, Minnesota North Stars — Goalkeeper
A prized quality among goalkeepers is fearlessness — that ability to stand up to a flood of attackers without losing heart — and they don’t come much more fearless than the Minnesota North Stars’ Worsley, the last goalie in the NHL to play without a mask. “My face is my mask,” he said when asked about it. Such bravado didn’t come without a price: in 1961 he took a Bobby Hull shot to the forehead and in 1966 he was struck in the temple by a hard-boiled egg thrown from the balcony in a game against the New York Rangers and knocked unconscious.
Bonus: Worsley was a crack soccer player in his youth, appearing with the Saskatoon All-Stars as their center forward when they played against Tottenham Hotspur in 1952.
Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx — Winger
As the small forward for the three-time WNBA champion Lynx, Maya Moore strikes an impeccable balance between being a go-to scorer and making her teammates better — a blend that would serve her well attacking from the wings on the pitch. She and Lisa Leslie are the only two WNBA players to be named season MVP, finals MVP and All-Star MVP, evidence that she’s both an exciting and tremendously skilled player. Plus, she grew up playing just about every sport she could get her hands on.
Rod Carew, Minnesota Twins — Full back
If there’s one word to describe former Minnesota Twin Rod Carew, it’s consistency. In 1972 he led the American League in hitting with a .318 batting average and hit no home runs — the first player to do so since 1918. His canny baserunning was no joke either: he’s fifth all-time in stolen bases for the Twins and stole home seven times in 1969, one off Ty Cobb’s record of eight. That combination of reliability, initiative and speed would serve the 18-time All-Star well on the pitch when it comes to holding down either side of the backline (he threw righty but batted lefty) and pushing forward when called for.
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild — No. 6
In 2015–16, Minnesota Wild Ryan Suter set a franchise record for points for a defenseman in a single season with 51. He is, in short, an excellent defensive player — a frequent finalist for the Norris Trophy as the league’s best — who can also put points on the board. The two-time All-Star and two-time Olympian is also a model of stability, having played 75 or more games in eight of his 11 seasons in the NHL. That kind of consistency should be highly prized for a holding midfielder.
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves — No. 8
Currently enjoying the best stretch of his career, Ricky Rubio has added respectable scoring to his already elite level passing, playmaking and defense. It’s a near perfect blend for a classic No. 8 on the pitch. As a deep-laying playmaker, his skill on defense is still integral to his play while allowing him to act as the fulcrum that gets the ball ahead and into the final third with his vision and intuitive understanding of tempo and space. Think young Pirlo. Plus, there's already video evidence of some strong footwork from the Spaniard.