Stephen Dunn / Allsport

Randy Moss

Mark Tinucci Jr., vice president of Tinucci's, a family-owned restaurant in Minnesota celebrating its 60th year, was driving a delivery truck in November when a car pulled up beside him.

The driver rolled down the window and yelled, "Randy Moss doesn't know s---!"

Tinucci's Of Minnesota

Though the restaurant's incident with Moss took place almost a decade ago, locals in the Twin Cities still remember it.

On Oct. 29, 2010, two days before the Vikings played the Patriots, then-owner Gus Tinucci catered lunch for the team at its training complex. Gus was manning the buffet when Moss took a look at the food before launching into a tirade and pointing at Gus.

"What is this s---?" Moss screamed, according to Gus. "I wouldn't feed this to my motherf------ dog. I used to have to eat this s---. I've got money; I don't need to eat it."

Brett Favre was right behind Gus and threw his helmet in a locker, appearing disgusted with Moss' behavior. After treatment to an injury, Favre came back to eat the food and later praised it. Meanwhile, Gus remained silent.

"What was I gonna do?" Gus said. "I didn't do anything … I just kind of let it go."

Two days later, the Patriots won 28-18. Moss loafed on a pass to the end zone and spent the postgame telling reporters how much he "loved" the Patriots, who had traded him to Minnesota four weeks into the 2010 season. The Vikings waived Moss the next week.

The Vikings fired head coach Brad Childress three weeks later, the roof of the Metrodome collapsed the next month and the Bears knocked out Favre in the third-to-last game of the season, ending his career.

Moss never apologized, though co-owner/president Mark Wilf did so over the phone.

Tinucci's has never catered the Vikings again.

But the family holds no grudge against Moss, now a studio analyst for ESPN.

"He's a good guy, and I love watching him on TV," said Mark Tinucci Sr., Gus' brother. "He just had a bad day."

Tinucci's Of Minnesota

The Tinuccis turned that bad day into great publicity. News of Moss' rant went viral, and Gus did more than 50 radio interviews. The restaurant offered free lunch to the first 84 people who turned in Moss' No. 84 jersey and an $8.40 lunch special to the rest of the customers. They sold thousands of T-shirts.

"In those six or eight months after that," Gus said, "it really was just crazy."

Moss declined to comment for this story, but Gus speculated that the wide receiver, who finished the 2010 season with the Titans, could have been acting out so the Vikings would release him.

Whatever the reason, Moss' bad behavior ended up working out in the restaurant's favor. The Tinucci family declined to release specific numbers, but sales have been much stronger since 2010 than before.

"It's never been better," Mark Sr. said. "If I could talk to Randy, I'd thank him."


Louie and Patricia Tinucci, the parents of Gus and Mark Sr., opened Tinucci's in 1958, and the restaurant still resides in the same location -- Newport, seven miles south of St. Paul.

Tinucci's Of Minnesota

"The big chicken that they do is just the best and the beef ribs," said Corbin Lacina, a former guard for the Bills and Vikings. "If there's ever anything we're doing, those are the first two items we're ordering for sure."

Lacina grew up with the food as Tinucci's catered several of his family events. Now a local realtor, he still goes there a couple of times a month and orders it whenever he hosts a function.

Lacina went to Cretin-Derham Hall -- the same high school as Matt Birk, a six-time Pro Bowler, (and Louie) -- in St. Paul. Lacina is four years older than Birk, but the two trained together after high school and later became linemates for the Vikings.

Birk and Lacina, who combined for 164 starts at center and guard, respectively, for Minnesota, introduced Tinucci's to the Vikings.

The team had a Friday tradition where position groups alternated who brought in lunch for the rest of the roster. Because of that St. Paul duo, the Vikings offensive linemen frequently brought in Tinucci's on their turn. 

Most of the other position groups brought in fast food. (The receivers often chose Popeyes Louisiana Chicken, something Moss reportedly enjoyed.)

Teammates, though, appreciated the homegrown spread of Tinucci's, which the o-line started ordering around the year 2000.

Tinucci's Of Minnesota

"Everyone loved it when we did it," Lacina said. "It was a big success at the time."

Though Lacina was out of the league by 2010, he played with Moss from 1999 to 2002, and the receiver's actions toward Tinucci's perplex him.

"I don't know what the heck happened with Randy," Lacina said. "I'm a Randy Moss fan. I played with Randy and I love Randy Moss."


Tinucci's will see another spike in business during the week of Super Bowl LII with the influx of people descending upon Minneapolis and St. Paul. To ensure safety, police will heavily patrol the area, and Tinucci's will help cater for the Minneapolis Police Department. They have booked 120 dinners for 10 nights in row.

Catering represents about 40 percent of the business for Tinucci's, which operates a dining room, events center, deli and eight catering trucks. They've offered a prime rib buffet on Saturday nights since 1977 and a have a popular fish fry on Friday nights.

Tinucci's Of Minnesota

The family-owned business remains in good hands, even though Louie passed away about two years ago. Mark Sr. bought out his brother John six years ago and bought out his other brother, Gus, who retired to Pompano Beach, Florida, a few weeks back.

Tinucci's provides food for the Minnesota Wild and the University of Minnesota football, hockey, soccer and track and field teams but hasn't been asked back by the Vikings since the Moss confrontation.

"That's too bad," Lacina said.

Tinucci's has no Vikings jerseys or paraphernalia either, but a copy of The New York Times story, which reported on the Moss incident in 2010, hangs on the wall. Patrons don't need that visual cue; they remain very aware of the restaurant's claim to fame.

"We could be on a catering job, we could be at a funeral delivering food, we could be at a graduation party," Mark Sr. said before chuckling. "People walk in the front door and they go, 'I think your food is good. I don't care what Randy says.'"

-- Follow Jeff Fedotin on Twitter @JFedotin.