Super Bowl Media Day for reporters is a mission to get an interesting quote out of any of the players. The high caliber of player, the more impact the quote will have. Yesterday will be remembered for only one quote (and it had nothing to do with the accusations against Ray Lewis, surprisingly).
"I think I am the greatest receiver to ever do it. I don't think numbers stand because you talk about this and this. This year has been a down year for me, statistically, then the year when 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 are able to do on that field."
Guess who? If you said Randy Moss...ding ding ding!
It's like he was making a case for himself while arguing against himself in the length of twenty seconds. Let's break this quote down, Zapruder-style.
"I think I am the greatest receiver to ever do it."
Well that's pretty vague. Do what, Randy? Give up on multiple teams? Hit a traffic cop? Vagueness aside, I can't argue with the ability of someone to think they are the greatest. Go right ahead. In other news, Tim Tebow tries to argue he's better than Peyton Manning ever was. Receivers are typically divas who have a...different way of thinking. It usually revolves around them and the amount of passes thrown their way, or lack thereof.
"I don't think numbers stand."
Numbers don't always tell the whole story, but these cannot be ignored:
Moss: 14 seasons, 15,292 yards (ten 1,000 yard seasons), 156 touchdowns
Rice: 21 seasons, 22,895 yards (fourteen 1,000 yard seasons), 197 touchdowns
Rice beats Moss' totals by almost 8,000 yards. Granted he played longer- but that is a testament to his durability. He also had two of the all-time great quarterbacks at the helm (Joe Montana and Steve Young), but to discount those statistics to the ability of those hall of fame quarterbacks is unfair to Rice. He worked just as hard to get open and run precise routes while perfecting the art of dragging both feet in bounds.
Moss, on the other hand had Randall Cunningham in his rookie year. It can be argued that regardless of Moss' talents, he was lucky that Cunningham had a season where he played out of his mind, passing for over 3,700 yards with a 3.4 to 1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also played with Daunte Culpepper at the height of his quarterbacking prowess. Moss was consistent year in and year out. Somewhere along the way, the only opponent who could shut him down was...himself.
Of his fourteen seasons, Moss missed six games due to injuries, while Rice had seventeen seasons of his twenty-one where he didn't miss a game. There is no way to calculate the number of games Moss wasn't there mentally for, though. Numbers cannot tell how reliable one is.
Thanks to Moss' personal opinion, it looks like we can just throw away the way we have been recording sports all this time. I mean, some youth leagues don't keep score because "everyone is a winner". I'm sure numbers matter when Moss looks at his checks, or when he plays for incentive bonuses.
Proclaiming who is greatest of all time can definitely be subjective at some point, but as they say - numbers never lie. This type of "numbers not standing" thing is said when it is convenient for the person making their case. What about your record-breaking 2007-2008 season, Randy? Does that not matter either? I'm sure if asked, he'll find a way to make note of that season, while
going with the whole "numbers don't stand" for a career-long perspective. That is the ONE season you can claim was better than any of Jerry Rice's- but based off what you've said here, it means diddly squat.
"This year has been a down year for me, statistically, then the year when
I retired was a down year and then in Oakland was a down year."
The first adverse season Moss experienced was in 2005 when he hit a roadblock in Oakland. The team went 4-12. He just barely made the sacred
one thousand yard plateau for receivers, but recorded (by a receiver of
his status) a mundane 8 touchdowns. It's not like his quarterback was a
slouch, either. Kerry Collins threw for over 3,700 yards and 20
touchdowns that season. But the 2006 campaign made 2005 look elite. Moss played in 13 games, totaling 553 yards and a dismal 3 touchdowns. Oh, and the team got worse. They finished 2-14.
For the record, the 2010 season in which he "retired" included three different teams. Sometimes a player needs a change of scenery to reboot himself, but a change after a change? Any wide receiver who considers themselves the greatest of all time would never be on three teams in one season, then retiring right after...eventually leading to a fourth team in three seasons. This would be a not-so-subtle sign that maybe that receiver's time as an effective pass catcher is over. During that season, Moss totaled 393 yards and 5 touchdowns, a far cry from anything a healthy Rice would do. He also did this.
Simply put, a healthy wide receiver in his prime who would be potentially considered the "greatest ever" would not put together three sub-par efforts.
"I live on impact and what you are able to do on the field."
This one blurb is where Moss might have a little credence. What he was able to do on the field ability-wise such as burning many a defensive back, or jumping up against multiple defenders to snag a deep bomb cannot be taken lightly. God blessed him with his incredible athleticism, more so than Jerry Rice. But where Rice lacked God-given ability, he made up for by working hard. No one can calculate the percentage of Rice's work ethic that Moss would need to have been the "greatest", but one would assume had he been more humble and less introverted at times, that it would have greatly affected his on-field performance.
What's Rice have to say about all of this?
"I impacted the game by winning Super Bowls," Rice told ESPN.com, "Randy is
still trying to win his first one, and I wish him the best, but I was
very surprised that he said he's the best receiver to ever play the
game. I leave that up to my fans to make that statement."
Simple and to the point. Rice has three rings, and Moss has zero. The greatest measuring stick in any sport is "Have you won a championship, and if so- how many?" Just ask Dan Marino or Karl Malone. One might be able to argue that Moss is the greatest receiver of all-time had he beat Rice in every major statistical category regardless of his lack of rings- but he hasn't. Moss will have the settle for at best, second place. If anything, he can lay claim to having one of the most interesting Youtube videos of any past or present NFL player.
Then again, maybe Moss doesn't truly believe what he said. Maybe he said it to make himself relevant heading into Sunday. Moss was once asked how he paid for things, to which he responded, "Straight cash, homie." This is just "straight honesty", Randy: You are not the greatest wide receiver of all-time.
And that's coming from a current Vikings fan whose sole reason for liking them in the first place as a fifth grader in 1998 was because of you.