Well, maybe Randy Moss was right to stay away from the media as much as possible this season. After all, as it has often been during his career, when he does speak his mind he creates controversy, and he did so once again today during Super Bowl XLVII Media Day.
With over 2,000 media members on hand, this was Moss' response to a question about whether he thought the was the greatest receiver of all time:
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Quote:Now that I'm older, I do think I'm the greatest receiver to ever do it. I don't think numbers stand. Because you can talk about this and this, I think I've had ... this year has been a down year for me statistically. The year before I retired was a down year, and Oakland was a down year. I don't really live on numbers I really live on impact and what you're able to do on that field. So I really do think I'm the greatest receiver to ever play this game.
Let's summarize his statement: "Numbers aside, I'm the greatest receiver to ever play this game."
Well ... yeah, arguably. Thing is: us folks don't put numbers aside. We are not about to dismiss Moss' career conduct, or lack thereof, and the standards set by, I don't know, a former 49ers WR (just to name someone) and start having these conversations about Greatest Of All Time based on potential and would-had-beens. No, the reality is the greatest receiver to ever play the game is Jerry Rice. Period.
All that being said, Moss more than any other receiver in the history of the game had the opportunity to surpass Rice as the GOAT. He possessed a rare combination of size, speed, and skill that made him the best receiver in the game during his prime. The potential of his skill set made him a great candidate to surpass Rice as the best receiver to ever play the game, but regardless of his outstanding numbers (career averages of 1,092 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns), Moss lacked a very important aspect in his game that kept him from overpassing Rice: work ethic.
A three-time Super Bowl champion, Rice did not possess outstanding size (6'2"), or game-changing speed (reportedly running a 4.71 40-yard dash at the NFL combine), but he became the standard for excellence for all football players by outworking the rest of the league day in and day out. His dedication in the offseason and during practice has yet to be replicated in the history of the game. Another important asset he possessed over every other NFL player were his smarts and understanding of the game, which helped him single out the aptitudes he needed to develop in order to make up for the skills he didn't possess. What Rice lacked in size and speed was more than made up for with route-running, ball-catching, and the ability to maintain separation from defenders. The results are clear to everyone: nearly 23,000 receiving yards and just shy of 200 receiving touchdowns, both still all-time records and likely to remain that way for several more year. He holds several NFL records, but this may be the most telling fact about him: catching 92 passes for 1,211 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2002 ... at 40 years old.
If Randy Moss had had Jerry Rice's work ethic, he would undoubtedly own many of the records Rice owns today, and maybe actually be able to claim being the GOAT without creating so much controversy, but the truth is Moss now can only attempt to find ways to skew the argument to his side because he failed to maximize his potential during his career. Moss' thoughts on his place among the all-time best wasn't a diss to Rice, it was a reminder to all fans and experts alike that a player's physical talents only mean so much in a player's career, and that work ethic and the desire and dedication to be great are really what separate the best from the rest.
P.S.: You are up, Megatron.
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