Randy Moss caused a bit of stir on Super Bowl Media Day when he said he was the greatest receiver to ever do it. The standard answer to that is always Jerry Rice. That certainly makes the most sense considering Rice owns just about every receiving record in existence and on top of that was a 3-time Super Bowl champion. Some people argue Rice is the best football player ever.
So does Moss have any kind of case?
He absolutely does.
If you think about which player caused defenses to adjust the most and worry the most, and forced them to account for you every play, that player may very well be Moss. And that might not just be for receivers.
Also, since when do we only rely upon numbers in our arguments about who is best? While it is acceptable to promote Brett Favre, or Dan Marino before him, as the best quarterback, rarely are either considered the best ever despite owning the majority of NFL passing records. Emmitt Smith is the leading rusher ever and has the most rushing touchdowns, but sometimes struggles to get placed in the top 5 for best running backs. Why is that? I could go on, and mention other sports too, but you get the idea.
Randy Moss said, “I don’t really live on numbers. I really live on impact and what you’re able to do out on that field. I really do think that I’m the greatest receiver to ever play this game.”
I don’t think anyone would debate you if you said he was the most feared receiver to ever play. That, in itself, is a slightly different statement, and argument. I also think it is acceptable to say he is one of the greatest receivers to ever play. Again, whether you compare numbers or just abilities, he is clearly in the conversation. And finally, you can make the case he is the most talented or the fastest receiver ever.
Certainly passing and receiving numbers have been inflated in the modern NFL, but when you are listing the best receivers looking at numbers you’d certainly include Terrell Owens, Don Hutson, Marvin Harrison, Cris Carter, Torry Holt, Steve Largent, Tim Brown, Isaac Bruce, Don Maynard, Lance Alworth, and many others. I’d also throw in two active players who will enter the discussion, Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson.
To go beyond the numbers, you’d have to include guys like Michael Irvin, Lynn Swann, Raymond Berry, Fred Biletnikoff, John Stallworth, and Charlie Taylor based on their Hall of Fame inductions and resumes.
When you conclude this is a sample of what a top ten or top 20 list would include, it is easier to understand what made Moss so special. Moss may not have run hard all the time. He may not have won a Super Bowl (that is pending). He may not have always been the best teammate. But man could he play. At his best, he changed the complexion of the game.
Truth is, Rice is the easiest answer to defend. Rice would be my answer. He had the all-around talent, worked harder than everyone else, and got the greatest results. He’d start for anybody’s all-time team. But if you were putting together that team, I don’t know how you’d leave Randy Moss off of it.