Ahmad Rashad almost didn’t make it onto the Vikings team. With a journey of up-and-down gameplay, injury, and racism, there were many things that could have stopped Rashad from being part of this golden team.
And without Rashad, the Vikings might never have made it to the Super Bowl XI or amazing Miracle at the Met.
5 Years Of Back And Forth
Ahmad Rashad’s journey started at high school. Before he left this crucial education system, he was recruited by the Oregon Ducks. He originally played as a wide receiver but quickly found out that a running back was a better fit.
In 1971, Rashad was added to the 1971 College Football All-American Team. Later he was drafted by the Cardinals but put back into his older wide receiver play style.
This was when things went strange for Rashad. He played for 2 seasons, then was traded to the Buffalo Bills. With the Bills, he spent most of this time benched due to a knee injury.
After a while, the Bills got rid of this secret star and traded him to the Seattle Seahawks. And this continued until Rashad was traded to the Vikings in 1976.
All this trading meant that Rashad never had a place to settle. When he was with the Cardinals, Rashad was part of the all-rookie team of 1972, but when Bob Hollway was fired, the team was dispersed. The new head coach, Don Coryell, traded off multiple players, including Rashad.
One season in play, another locked down to his knee injury. Rashad’s best friend was the bench.
The Seahawks took Rashad on as they trained to expand their own reach, but days before their first game, trading papers came out again. Rashad was stuck in limbo, waiting for the Viking’s future picks.
How Racism Held Him Back
On paper, it seems like Rashad never really got a break. He was a great player for college, but injury, team expansion, and trading politics didn’t allow him to show his skills in the NFL.
However, when we look at newspapers at the time, we can see just how much racism was involved.
In 1972, when the drama began, Rashad converted to Islam. Born as Robert Earl Moore (nicknamed Bobby Moore), Rashad took on his new name of Ahmad Rashad. The name means “Admirable one led to truth” in Arabic.
This personal decision should have been a non-issue, but newspapers of the time show how he was treated as a “troublemaker.”
Rashad explained, 10 years later in an interview with the Pittsburgh Press, that “On the practice field, I was like a leper.” When the loudspeaker called his name, it was drowned out with boos.
Rashad explained that the Cardinals were “very much against my name change.” And it’s at that point that the non-play and constant trading began.
Becoming A Viking
It wasn’t just one team that started to treat Rashad differently, it was the culture and sport of the time.
When Rashad was handed to the Vikings, he was told to do a practice session. Due to this previous injury, the Vikings declared that Rashad didn’t pass his physical. This meant he couldn’t play for another team.
Luckily, Fran Tarkenton saw Rashad in the training room and asked what had happened. Rashad explained, and Tarkenton blew a fuse. He rushed to Bud Giant and demanded that Rashad play.
After a big meeting, a conditional deal was made. Rashad could play a certain number of games, and then the contract would be looked at again.
It was this contract that allowed Rashad to shine. During that time, Rashad caught 319 passes, brought the team to the Super Bowl, and scored 44 touchdowns!
If Fran Tarkenton didn’t make a stand, the Vikings wouldn’t have found these golden nuggets in Ahmad Rashad.
Super Bowl XI
As you can expect from the fans’ reaction to Rashad, the Super Bowl predictions were not in the Viking’s favor.
It would have been the perfect ending to Rashad’s story if the Vikings won this match, but unfortunately, life isn’t so neat. The predictions were correct.
Ahmad Rashad still managed to make an impression, though, and he managed to create 104 receptions, 13 touchdowns, and 1,577 receiving yards with his partner Sammy White. He even managed to tackle the all-mighty Ron Yary.
Although the Vikings didn’t win this Super Bowl, they managed to break a record nonetheless. This was the fourth time they made it to the Super Bowl, and it was the first time for any team to reach that achievement.
They held onto that record for just one year when the Dallas Cowboys reached the Super Bowl and joined them on their 4th appearance.
Ahmad Rashad has had an exciting career going from Football to Television to Basketball.
During his football career, Ahmad caught 495 passes for a total of 6,831 yards. He completed 44 touchdown passes and also achieved 52 rushing yards.
He was also the pivotal player for what the country remembers as “The Miracle At The Met.”
Ahmad Rashad had a great start to his career that was unjustly dampened. When players, managers, and fans finally looked past his name change, that’s when Rashad was allowed to become the powerful player he always was.