In the midst of the best season of his career, Cordarrelle Patterson credits his breakout year to being the most comfortable he has ever been in the NFL.
Patterson opened up in a conversation with Kris Rhim about the people who inspire him, his love for Atlanta, and why he is ensuring that he is the fan-favorite.
By Kris Rhim
Cordarrelle Patterson's NFL career began with high expectations and controversy.
After dominating for two years at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, 24/7 sports ranked Patterson the nation's No. 1 JUCO (junior college) player. Following his sophomore season, he chose the University of Tennessee, where he made an immediate impact. Tennessee used Patterson primarily as a wide receiver, but he also shined as a return specialist and running back, setting a school record with 1,858 all-purpose yards. Following his at standout season, the Minnesota Vikings selected him with the 26th pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
When he got to the Vikings, Patterson selected the number he wore for as long as he could remember – 84. The digits are special to him because they represent the year his sister was born, 1984.
There was just one problem.
Arguably the greatest player in Vikings history and one of the best receivers in NFL history, Randy Moss starred in No. 84 for Minnesota. Already a first-round pick with enormous expectations, Patterson inadvertently added even more — and upset many who thought the number choice was disrespectful to Moss' legacy.
"First of all, that's disrespectful, to give a rookie my number," Moss said in 2013. "I don't really believe in numbers, but I think that, from a professional standpoint, I did make that number. And for them to give him that number, he hasn't proven anything yet."
For Patterson, Moss and Devin Hester were the players he looked up to most growing up; he even calls Moss "GOAT" (greatest of all-time), so the number choice was anything but an attempt at disrespect.
"Who wouldn't wanna play like Randy Moss?" Patterson said. "'You got Mossed!' Little kids still say that to this day. We all still say that."
And while Patterson did not match Moss' then-record setting 1,313-yard, 17-touchdown rookie season, he certainly didn't make the number look bad. He had over 600 yards from scrimmage and led the league in kick return average, kick return touchdowns and finished fifth in offensive rookie of the year voting.
Since then, Patterson has struggled to reach the heights he had in his first year. He has eclipsed over 500 yards from scrimmage just once, has been on four different teams, and has become known for his skill as a kick returner instead of an offensive weapon.
That all changed this season.