I’ve made it pretty clear in previous posts my love affair with sports (1, 2). I’ve also made it clear my affinity and loyalty toward numbers (1). Most sports fans have an all-time favorite athlete and I am no exception.
Randy, it’s been one hell of a ride!
I remember seeing highlight of him as a prep prospect. I remember hearing about his legal problems as he attempted to live out his dream to play for Notre Dame. I remember his short transfer to Florida State. I remember his transfer to Marshall. I remember all the talk about his potential high side and disastrous risk. I remember the comparisons to Peyton Manning as the best talent in the draft.
I remember freaking my shit as he fell, and fell, and fell. I remember the pitiful feeling as the 19th pick came around, realizing that watching this SuperFreak spread out the field with a peaking Hall of Famer in Brett Favre made my Viking heart bleed. The saw an horrid run of Super Bowl titles.
I remember him getting drafted at #22 by the Minnesota Vikings, and I was floored. A talent I had never seen before had falling all the way to my team (I’ve sense grown up and no longer refer to professional sports team in the first person, many adult sport fans have yet to follow). My man-crush was fully formed.
I remember all the arguments with uncles and cousins as they their emotions about attitude and character cloud their judgment about the actual game. I remember being told during the 1998 season, when I firmly predicted that Randy Moss would go down as the G.O.A.T. at wide receiver, that I was crazy. No one could touch Jerry.
Now that all is said in done, I wasn’t wrong in 1998 and I’m not wrong now. Randy Moss is the greatest to ever play the position. Whether you look at the numbers, the talent, or how other teams reacted to having to play him. He has no peer. You can twist the raw numbers (Rice vs. Moss) in many different ways, but you have to look at numerous different factors to interpret them.
Moss played 13 seasons — all of which were played during an athlete’s prime years. Ironically, Jerry Rice’s first 13 seasons were all entirely played with two of greatest passing quarterbacks to every play the game — Joe Montana and Steve Young. Rice played six seasons after this — two for SF, three in OAK, and one in SEA — and in every statistically category his numbers were mediocre. There were 10 receivers in the NFL last year that had a better season statistically than Rice had during his best year outside of the Bill Walsh era. Also ironically, his final season is nearly identical statisically to Moss’ last season.
At the very least, when you put their careers side by side, as the document above has done, their stats are extremely similar. Whether you stop at their first 13 years, of you trend out Moss’ career over a Rice length 19-year career, they keep pace the whole way.
Throughout Moss’ career, he never had the QB consistency that Rice had. Moss’ arguably only spent 2 of his 13 seasons with a Hall of Fame QB; while Rice played 14 of his 19 seasons with a Hall of Fame QB.
Moss has spent 8 or more games having Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Daunte Culpepper, Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks, Andrew Walter, Tom Brady and Matt Cassell throw him the ball.
Only Tom Brady is a Hall of Famer, Culpepper couldn’t play in the NFL without Randy, and the other three above-average quarterbacks were all above 35 years old when Moss played with them.
It is in essence comparing apples and oranges.
Possibly, the best argument for Moss being the G.O.A.T. has nothing to do with statistics. It has to do with how the Vikings main rival acted in the 1999 draft after Moss accosted them for 5-190-2 and 8-153-1 in their two meetings. Green Bay drafted a safety, a cornerback, and a cornerback with their first three picks.
It worked…for a game…when they held him to 2-13-1 (still), but later in the year, he broke out for 5-131-2.
Chicago never bothered to address the Moss Factor and he burned them for years. His Monday Night performances are folklore, his victimization of the Cowboys after the personal slight at the draft is laughable, and for those that think he had “lost it” in recent years (yes, I’m looking at you Jeff Fisher — if you’d like to talk about who has “lost it”, we should discuss your coaching), his one-handed grab after Darrelle Revis dissed him last year, could be the highlight of his career. One-handed catches should not look routine. Moss made the amazing look ordinary.
Rice will always been known as the G.O.A.T. Like watered-down pop music, it’s the easy and popular choice. If Terrell Owens plays a similar amount of throw-away seasons, he may even pass Moss because there are so many Moss haters out there that they would even use T.O. to argue against Moss. Yes, he had an attitude. But he never cheated. He never took steroids. He didn’t destroy teams or locker rooms (look at you, T.O.). He was a team player, in his own way.
I’ve lived through remarkable feats of athleticism and competition. The raw skill and ”wow”-entertainment value of Randy Moss should be ranked up there with Lance Armstrong (if he didn’t ‘roid), Barry Bonds (if he didn’t ‘roid), and Tiger Woods (if…).