Randy Moss, Jimi Hendrix And Your Judgment Of Being The World’s Greatest (Wide Receiver)

Ed The Sports Fan, Football — By on January 30, 2013 at 9:12 am

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I was driving into work when I heard what Randall Gene Moss, wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, said on Tuesday:

“Now that I’m older, I do think I’m the greatest receiver to ever do it,” Moss said at Super Bowl media day in New Orleans. “I don’t really live on numbers. I really live on impact and what you’re able to do out on the field, I really think I’m the greatest receiver to ever play this game.”

The funny thing is, when I finally heard what he said, I didn’t even bat an eyelash. Then, I got to hear the backlash from the sports talk radio show that I was listening to.

“Randy Moss, you’re not even the best receiver on any of the teams’ franchise you’ve played for!”

“Randy Moss is an idiot.”

“Moss must have been smoking New Orleans’ finest early this week.”

I just chuckled to myself, realizing that I now live in the Bay Area, this type of response isn’t surprising. Not saying that it’s ignorant, but I can totally understand the loyalty that folks out here (and across the world) have towards the one and only Jerry Lee Rice. Fans were calling into the show and were spitting verbatim Rice’s stats like they were pledging a fraternity, like the need to defend Rice was necessary in the first place. Rice’s stats are legendary, as he’s the all-time leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns, so he’s unquestionably the greatest wide receiver of all-time.

So what?

I’d still rather have Randy Moss over Jerry Rice if I had to choose. There’s never been a more dynamic football player on the field better than Moss. Only players like Deion, Bo and Vick are as comparable to Moss when it comes to showstopping ability, and at his peak, there was no force more unstoppable.

Yet, when Randy Moss comes out and makes the quote that he did, especially at the Super Bowl … folks get caught up in their feelings. They spit those stats, 20 years worth of them, in fact. Truthfully, I don’t foresee another player playing 20 years like guys like Rice, Brett Favre and Darrell Green did, and Moss has been in his twilight for a number of years. Of course, when you talk about production, is looking at Rice’s 20 years necessary? Check out Rice’s per season stats compared to Moss:

Jerry Rice, per season stats, 20 seasons: 81.6 catches, 1,209.6 yards, 10.4 touchdowns
Randy Moss, per season stats, 14 seasons: 72.0 catches, 1,121.6 yards, 11.4 touchdowns

They’re much closer than what you’d think, right? You’d expect Rice to have an edge in catches and yards, but the catch/yard differential is minimal. Moss is Moss when it comes to touchdown rate, but again the edge is minimal. I’m not much of a stathead, but these two guys have similar outputs, and at a glance there doesn’t seem to be a real difference.

Of course, then the anecdotes start to rain in:

  • Rice has 4 Super Bowl rings, Moss has zero
  • Rice played 20 seasons to 14 for Moss, longevity is a form of excellence, right?
  • Rice was never in trouble, while Moss found trouble like it was his job

Moss defenders could rebuttal with the following:

  • Rice played for 3 MVP’s (Montana, Young, Gannon) to 1 for Moss (Brady)
  • Rice’s career has been anchored by franchise stability, while not so much for Moss
  • While Rice is the all-time leader in the three big receiving categories (catches, yards, TD’s), he’s not a single-season leader in any of said categories: Marvin Harrison, single-season catches leader (143); Calvin Johnson, single-season yards leader (1,964); Randy Moss, single-season touchdowns leader (23)

Let’s hear that quote again from Randall Gene, if you please:

“Now that I’m older, I do think I’m the greatest receiver to ever do it,” Moss said at Super Bowl media day in New Orleans. “I don’t really live on numbers. I really live on impact and what you’re able to do out on the field, I really think I’m the greatest receiver to ever play this game.”

There will be many that will go down to the grave believing that Jerry Rice is the greatest wide receiver that ever lived, and there will never be anything wrong in believing that. But forgive me, and Randy Moss, if we choose to feel otherwise. To borrow an analogy I heard from Bomani Jones awhile back, watching Jerry Rice was like watching Eric Clapton play the guitar. So precise, so technical, so efficient in their art that you could only watch in awe to the level of preparation one could take in mastering their craft. Watching Randy Moss is much more like watching Jimi Hendrix strum the strings. A raw, yet natural expression of power and creativity, being unleashed for all to marvel at. Doing it “the right way” isn’t always “the best way” for Moss, but if it feels good then you go with it.

Watching Rice execute a 7-route to perfection will never get old. Watching Moss run a 9-route on three defenders will also never get old. You take Clapton, I’ll take Hendrix, let’s just turn up the speakers and rock out for the night.

Eddie Maisonet, III

Eddie Maisonet is an appreciator of the ultimate reality show that is sports.

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    16 Comments

  • OK, I love me some Jimi Hendrix all damn day, but come on now? You’d really take Randy Moss over Jerry Rice? Really? REALLY?

    That’s fine, I’ll take Jerry Rice and get the same (maybe more in today’s NFL?) production receiving-wise, not mention a guy who blocked his ass off, never caused trouble with this teams and was the consummate teammate. Arguing that anyone is better right now than Jerry Rice at this point is like arguing there was a better hockey player than Wayne Gretzky. Knock yourself out, but you deserve ridicule for that choice.

    Now, I also am a Randy Moss fan, but you all are crazy. I think you and Kenny are just messing with me to make me get angry over guys I actually like.

    Clapton and Hendrix are both remarkable though. Enjoy it all.

  • I’m not into the music/sports comparisons, but I can see why that works here. I’m a big believer in letting people write their own chapters, regardless of the constant comparisons to those that came before them. However, I understand why this happens; it’s human nature to declare something as good/bad, if not better than/worse than the original.

    As someone who can honestly say Jerry Rice is the reason I became a sports fan, I have absolutely no problem with what Moss said because 1) If you were him, humble you would not be. He had a career long and dynamic enough for him to make a boastful claim, and 2) I don’t mind the confidence.

    And in saying that, I refer to a comment I made to a friend yesterday on Facebook:

    THIS much I can say about Moss’ exact comment: he’s sort of right in how he impacted the game. DCs and defenders were petrified when he was on the field. He was a rebounder deep, and had very good separation when he was in his prime. He was the real reason why Cris Carter had success underneath in Minnesota (though Robert Smith didn’t hurt either guy, either). With New England, the system was already a success w/o a deep ball threat, so all he had to do was top off the safeties because of the always-effective intermediate game the Patriots have.

    Now, you don’t have to force me into much in saying that Rice is the G.O.A.T. (the only athlete in which I would claim as such in any sport without hesitation), but anyone that can inspire a verb off of abusing Darrelle Revis’ hamstring is worth respect.

  • Joe Simmons says:

    I respect that you dig Moss but I think it may be an age gap here. You aren’t young enough to see the impact that Rice had on the game. I give Moss respect he was a deep threat but outside of that he didn’t really bring anything to the table. he couldn’t block nor did he run that deep dig route that makes or breaks receivers. (ASK TOM WADDLE ABOUT THAT)

    Granted Moss commanded the double team but a lot of guys can say that. Terrell Owens was just as dominant as Moss but he just didn’t have the hands to compliment his talent. However the numbers and the substance is there.

    I can understand why Moss may feel like he is the GOAT. However, you should never appoint yourself as the greatest. Let your contemporaries do it. It sounds much better coming from someone else mouth rather than your own. You making that argument for him makes sense to me because you witnessed it up close and personal. I saw them both at their best and I can honestly say that NO ONE, and I MEAN NO ONE has ever done it like Rice.

    I will give Randy this though he is second best all time. I will concede that. He was more entertaining and he gave us the side show. But as far as talent, Jerry Rice goes up on Football’s Mount Rushmore.

  • Mia Jackson says:

    I lived in the Bay Area for twenty years and witnessed Jerry Rice fever firsthand. It was deserved and stats certainly can’t quantify what he meant to the game.

    Now when it comes to Randy Moss and his comments, I have absolutely no issue with Randy’s take on Randy. That’s who he is, who he’s been and if he were to say something different I’d expect him to hang up his cleats the very next minute. That belief is what fuels the Moss man. If I had to choose which of the two I’d like to watch on an 80-yard run it would be Randy; the stride is simply beautiful. He’s the BADDEST. But on my team, I want Rice, for all of the other reasons that make him the BEST. Part of being the best is the mastery of the whole game, not just the one on the field.

    The Hendrix/Clapton comparison is all the more appropriate when you discuss baddest vs. best. I could listen to Jimi’s The Wind Cries Mary on a sunny spring after noon in San Francisco and be taken across the world. He’s genius. Clapton’s mastery of the music is also on a whole different level. I guess that’s what it boils down to for Randy/Jerry or Jimi/Eric … genius/mastery.

  • Doug says:

    Who cares if Randy Moss thinks he is the GOAT? Of course he thinks he is. That who these athletes are. It’s like when someone asked Eli Manning if he was elite, and he said yes. People went crazy saying he wasn’t elite. So what? If you are Giants fan, you want him to believe that he is an elite QB, otherwise he wouldn’t be any good. All players think they are better than they are, it’s part of what makes them great.

    On a side note, I bet Rice’s per season numbers blow Moss’s away when you take out the last 2-3 years when he was just hanging on. Also consider that Moss played in an era that was much more dominated by passing than Rice.

    But this is all coming from someone who thinks Marvin Harrison is in the discussion for 2nd or 3rd best WR of all time. Rice being number 1.

  • JT says:

    I rocks with Moss one of my favorites and I respect that he made this claim. The dude did take the top off of a defense like no one else but but Rice not even stats Rice had me catching slant passes in my grandmas backyard from my pops damn near on the daily. Rice didn’t take plays off either. The QB comparison makes sense far as names but Moss had some slingers in Minnesota and Reed, Carter and Smith were not bums by any means at the skill positions when he arrived but I’m not trying to take anyway from what Moss did at all. This is what makes blogging fun everybody has their own opinion which creates good convo, salute on the post.

  • J. Tinsley says:

    I have no problem with Randy Moss thinking he is the best of all time.

  • AH says:

    What most people who immediately jump on Moss dont understand is that the era we live in now creates the kind of media attention thats causes ignorance. People will say Randy Moss wasnt a great teammate but every team he’s played had locker rooms full of guys who thought the world of him. People may not know it but Rice was not liked by quite a few of teammates and as far as being a primadona he cried for the ball as much if not more than everyones favorite whipping boy T.O. Difference being the era we live in today will find reasons to hate someone where as the era Rice played in did everything needed to elevate the the athletes. Thats why you rarely here anything negative being said about players prior to the mid 90s. So many of the things you here about Moss are either flat out lies or misconceptions. Belichik said Moss is the smartest player he’s ever encountered. Chris Carter said Moss was the best reciever ever. So when you take what Moss actually said in context, he’s right. His impact on the field was far greater than Rice. And if it wasnt for so many people deciding what they want to believe in terms of the critics, they would only need to research to find the truth. Like 75% of his receptions weren’t down the field. He goes over the middle regularly. He regularly blocks to the point of spring someone for a long gain or t.d. Etc….Its as if people watch espn more than they actually watch the games….

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