There were times, such as 10 years ago during his prime, when Randy Moss was unstoppable and capable of putting fear in every opponent. He stretched the field so deep and beat a defender in coverage. He reminded us that he was respectively one of the greatest deep-ball receivers of our generation. But when Moss candidly was asked about his place in football history at Super Bowl Media Day on Tuesday, he went a bit too far. Moss, 35, declared himself as the greatest wide receiver of all time, and certainly is taking a beating by some while others have let it slide.
“I do think I’m the greatest receiver ever to play this game,” Moss said.
Is he the best receiver of all time, or is someone else just that much better? The answer is surely not a brainteaser but a no-brainer, and even if he claims he’s the best ever to play the game, he’s way off the mark. Not to break Moss’ heart, but it’s not even close. Just a decade ago Jerry Rice, a three-time Super Bowl champion with the 49ers and the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions, touchdowns and yards, awed fans by his brilliance and magnificent performances on the field. So it was just the sort of remark Moss should not have made, and must take heed that Rice is widely viewed as the greatest wideout.
If somebody does surpass him in every category, it won’t be for a very long time. Moss or anybody else won’t break his unreachable, untouchable records. Maybe years from now a crafty receiver will come along and shatter Rice’s records, as records are meant to be broken. It’s not happening in this generation, even when Moss considers himself the most superlative talent to emerge in the league, even when he’s a genuine prodigy and even when he has the pedigree to be a primary target.
“Now that I’m older, I do think I’m the greatest receiver to ever do it,” Moss said, as you can see in the NFL Network clip above. “I don’t think numbers stand. Because you can talk about this and this, I think I’ve had … this year has been a down year for me statistically. The year before I retired was a down year, and Oakland was a down year. I don’t really live on numbers I really live on impact and what you’re able to do on that field.
“So I really do think I’m the greatest receiver to ever play the game.”
What he’s created in Super Week is nothing more but publicity only surrounding him and nobody else, and he’s done exactly that throughout his career of turbulence and monumental achievements, the one man who is hated or loved by his peers, fans and coaching staffs, the one man who is not fitted to play in every city around the league. While it is true that he’s an otherworldly talent and frequently speaks without thinking clearly before he utters something foolish that catches folks off guard, at a time when he has set sights on his first Super Bowl victory in Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, Hall of Famer Michael Irvin insisted that there is no argument about who holds the greatest of all time title.
“Randy’s done a wonderful job in the NFL. He’s done some wonderful things,” Irvin said. “Numbers do count and especially when they lead to victories. That’s why I think everybody has to capitulate when it comes to talking about greatest receiver. Bar none, nobody’s having a conversation. It is Jerry Rice, period.”
Let’s look at the numbers shall we?
Numbers don’t lie.
As things stand, Rice completed his 20-year career with 1,549 catches for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdown receptions. That alone is the best among all receivers in NFL history in all three categories. And really, to be a realist and speak the truth regarding an unnecessary debate, there is no argument, especially when the facts speak louder than Moss’ loud mouth. In contrast he’s definitely tallied the numbers to be mentioned in the same breath as Rice, but he’s not even in the same conversation when it comes to greatness and likely won’t ever be eulogized like the undisputed receiver in the history of the NFL. It’s been something of a roller coaster throughout his erratic career, which Moss has been known for quitting on teams, walking out on his teammates and not having the same kind of work ethic as Rice.
You can easily make the case that he’s been an asset in his first season with the 49ers (28 catches, 434 yards, three touchdowns), but he’s never done it consistently and has had flaws in his game because of his badass attitude and cockiness that ended his brief stints nearly everywhere he’s played. But over the last decade, when he was a star in Minneapolis and continued the Moss Tour of America by making himself feel right at home in two other American cities, he’s compiled impressive numbers no one ever imagined. This might explain why he avers that he’s better than Rice: 982 receptions for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns. More recently, Moss is ninth in NFL history with receptions, trailing — among others — Hines Ward, Isaac Bruce and Tony Gonzalez. At this time, as well, he is third in receiving yards behind Terrell Owens and Rice.
I wouldn’t call that great.
Sorry, Moss. That’s not good enough, not to surpass the rightful emperor of all receivers, mind you.
And while he’s no longer a defiant individual who was a toxic waste on nearly every team he’s played for during a rebellious period in all cities that gave him a shot to be the best receiver all time, his persona and Hall of Fame status remains the same. For someone who won’t stop whining and gripping, he has not changed a bit and is unhappy with his role in the 49ers offense. But he is, no matter what a person thinks of him making these statements, standing by his claim that he’s the greatest to ever play in the National Football League.
“What I said is what I felt, and I don’t want to get into a shouting match with Jerry Rice or anybody,” Moss said Wednesday during the 49ers’ media access for Super Bowl XLVII. “It’s my personal opinion. (Rice) has the numbers but I don’t believe in numbers.”
The hyperbole is just now heating up in New Orleans, and Moss is spewing not only trash talk but that he’s the great one. Moss is a man of prestige and has a certain cachet, who in 14 seasons has spent time in Minnesota (twice), Oakland, New England and Tennessee, before calling San Francisco home where he’s finally the happiest he’s been and not turning his back on the 49ers, a team that is well-coached by Jim Harbaugh. He is, as a disciplinarian, intolerant and doesn’t take kindly to players who are not on their best behavior, and Moss knows his limits and how far he can take his coach. It was arrogance, as we all know by now, that delayed success and nearly doomed his career and defiance recklessly bruised his reputation, before he finally matured into a man and settled down in the late stages of his career.
It’s OK, Moss — really — to tell America how you truly feel and give your honest answer. He isn’t, without much thought, shy to boldly lash out and alienate his ex-teammates, a defiant trait that has led to trouble over the years with prior teams he’s played for during the course of his magnificent but cancerous career. If he can disagree with a man who ridiculously thinks he’s not the best wideout to ever play the game, just so he could draw attention to himself, it would be the time to beg to differ with his bold statement — one that stunned the world.
It shouldn’t surprise no one that Moss is so cocky and self-absorbed, that he would make a loud proclamation to raise many eyebrows. By now, you and I should know the way he behaves and thinks — too much of a big-headed know-it-all and an egotist, sometimes foolishly not realizing that football is a team sport.
He isn’t just valiant and undaunted, he is misinformed and way off on this one. As he could possibly win his first Super Bowl ring, maybe he can go down as one of the instant heroes in this particular game. You never know. After all, that would make more sense. Hey, as long as Rice is not on the field.