<
>

Smoothie sailing: Moss dons apron at fruit-juice store

6/29/2006 - NFL Randy Moss

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Randy Moss walked behind the counter in
a pinstripe suit with a red striped tie, traded his jacket for an
apron, took off his sunglasses and went to work -- as the owner of a
new fruit-juice store.

Making smoothies gave Moss another chance to smooth out a rift
with his home state.

Hundreds of people turned out at the recent grand opening of the
Inta Juice store in Charleston to get an autograph from the
Oakland Raiders receiver and try the product he first tasted while he was
with the Minnesota Vikings.

"Am I getting paid for doing this today?" Moss said, flashing
a smile.

"Yeah, we've got minimum wage coming to you," replied Berkley
Fuller, executive vice president and chief business development
officer of the Fort Collins, Colo.-based Inta Juice.

The first smoothie Moss made was bought by Joe Burgess of South
Charleston for his wife, Carol, who returned a few minutes later to
get Moss' autograph on her cup.

"I think it's a great thing that he's doing. It's beneficial
for the community," Joe Burgess said. "He's putting his roots
back down in West Virginia. Right now, Randy is trying to come back
and pay back the community."

There are some who thought he needed to do that. Although he was
a Heisman Trophy finalist at Marshall in 1997, the Rand native
hasn't exactly been a hero in his home state.

He spent a few days in jail for a parole violation in 1996. By
his rookie season with the Vikings in 1998, several articles were
written in which Moss criticized West Virginia and said he was
happy to get out of the state.

In Minnesota, his image continued to take a hit.

He squirted an official with a water bottle in 1999. Two years
later, he verbally abused corporate sponsors on a team bus, and in
2002 bumped a traffic control officer with his car.

In 2004, Moss was fined $10,000 for pretending to pull down his
pants and moon the Green Bay crowd during Minnesota's playoff win
and also drew criticism for leaving the field with 2 seconds left
in a regular-season loss against Washington.

But over the years, Moss has held less publicized annual
autograph sessions for children in Charleston and has taken several
busloads of kids to an Ohio amusement park.

"I think it takes time," said Moss' lawyer, Tim DiPiero.
"Actions speak louder than words. We've never had so much positive
feedback than we've had from this. You can tell by the turnout that
the people are excited.

"I don't think there's any doubt that the healing's been going
on for some time and the repair is pretty much finished. I think
we're in good shape now. It's all positive."

Moss got into the smoothies when he and his Vikings teammates
visited an Inta Juice franchise in Eden Prairie, Minn., near the
team's headquarters.

His favorite was the Caribbean Blend, made with lime sherbet,
raspberry juice, strawberries and bananas.

"It's really the first one that I ever tasted," Moss said. "I
fell in love with it. By being so healthy and being able to taste
the product, I was overwhelmed. Whenever I figured out that I could
have something like this of my own, that's why I did it."

A year ago, Moss directed DiPiero to call Inta Juice about
bringing a franchise to West Virginia. DiPiero was skeptical at
first. So was Fuller.

"My first reaction was a little bit of surprise," Fuller said.
"Why is Randy contacting us? What's he interested in?"

Moss went to Colorado to talk with company officials and won
them over. Not only did Moss start the process of opening a
franchise, he made an undisclosed investment in Inta Juice, earned
a seat on the board of directors and became involved in marketing
the company.

"I just think it's a good fit," Moss said of opening his
store. "We really didn't have anything here in town for the people
that tasted like this and being as healthy as it is. So I just
thought about investing and bringing it back home."