Randy Moss recently stated plainly that he believed that he was the best wide receiver in National Football League history. He believes that his career was better than those of all his contemporaries which includes Cris Carter, Tim Brown, and Terrell Owens. But more importantly, he actually believes that he is better than Jerry Rice, the wide receiver that many people believe to be the best football player that ever lived. He said the following:
“Now that I’m older, I do think I’m the greatest receiver to ever do it,” Moss said. “I don’t think numbers stand because you talk about this and this. This year has been a down year for me statistically. The year before I retired was a down year and then in Oakland was a down year.
“So I don’t really live on numbers. I live on impact and what you’re able to do out on that field, so I really do think that I’m the greatest receiver to ever play this game.”
Randy Moss is obviously deluded if he really thinks that he is better than Jerry Rice, however he will end his career as one of the best wide receivers that ever lived. In fact, only one wide receiver can honestly boast to be on the same level with Moss. That receiver is appropriately one of the boastful wide outs that ever played the game, Terrell Owens. Either Terrell Owens or Randy Moss hold the second or third place spot in every prominent receiving category. But, who is better?
This category couldn’t be any more even. TO was actually underrated as a receiver because he played many years for the 49ers when they were just mediocre. Statistics show Moss and TO were equally as dominant.
Historically both of these guys have a history of dropping a lot of passes. Drops is an unofficial statistic, but metrics from 2009-2011 show TO with a drop rate of 12.4% and Moss at 11.9%. The eye test, however, squarely puts Moss ahead in this category. It’s impossible to count the number of one handed or leaping circus catches Moss had made over the years. He would snag balls out of the air like his hands were a catcher’s mitt. TO on the other hand made numerous big catches in his career, of course, but he was always known for dropping nearly as many as he caught. In fact, the most popular catch of his career came in a game where he had more drops than catches. Moss’ catches seemed natural, TO seemed to often fight the ball into his hands.
This is the one category that is a slam dunk. TO was incredibly fast, but Moss had legendary speed. No other receiver in the history of the game could outrun the corner defending him and the safety playing centerfield with the sole intention of preventing him from catching a deep pass.
Another one sided category. Although he did them well, Moss ran two routes: the go route and the comeback. TO could, and most importantly, *would* run every single route on the receiving tree brilliantly. Need a big catch over the middle? He would deliver. Slants against press coverage? Check. Deep corner or post against press coverage? Check. Early in his career he struggled with this part of his game, but as he became more seasoned it became one of his strengths.
Big Play Ability
Nothing would electrify a crowd like Moss streaking down the sidelines, throwing his arm up in the air to signal that he’s open, and then coming down with a 75 yard TD pass. Because he was so dynamic he allowed Randall Cunningham, Daunte Culpepper, and Jeff George to all have career seasons throwing to him.
TO didn’t have as many long bombs as Moss, but he accumulated his big plays with the combination of size, speed, and strength. No cornerback could match up with him physically, so he often muscled through his coverage for the catch, broke a tackle or two, and was off for a long gain. His big plays may have been just as effective as Moss’s, but they just weren’t as vibrant.
Slight edge: Moss
As fantastic a player Moss was, he was equally a jerk. He frequently complained about the number of passes thrown his way, gloated about his abilities, and wasn’t always accountable. What other football player has said something like:
“I play when I want to play,” Moss said. “Do I play up to my top performance, my ability every time? Maybe not. I just keep doing what I do and that is playing football. When I make my mind up, I am going out there to tear somebody’s head off. When I go out there and play football, man it’s not anybody telling me to play or how I should play. I play when I want to play, case closed.”
What would the world think of an offensive lineman who blocked when he felt like it? How many films of tape are there of Moss not running full speed on a route when the pass is not intended for him? Has there ever been another player who walked off the field before the game was totally over? Moss couldn’t always be counted on by his teammates in the ultimate team sport.
As insufferable as TO was in front of a camera and as divisive as he was in the locker room, he always gave 100% dedication to his job. He was continually in great shape, never took plays or games off, and played hurt. His touchdown celebrations never became a distraction like Chad Johnson’s, even though he scored more than double the times Johnson did. Heavily criticizing current teammates, throwing former teammates under the bus, and purposely dividing locker rooms are not great traits, but no one hates anyone more than a quitter … and that’s what Randy Moss frequently was.
By the slimmest of margins, 3.5-3, it looks like Randy Moss can be called the 2nd greatest receiver of all time. Hopefully this comes as some sort of consolation prize for him after he was a complete no-show during the Super Bowl this past Sunday.