Randy Moss caused a big stir Friday by claiming that he is the greatest wide receiver of all time.
Moss made his claim to the throne on Terrell Owens’ podcast and then proceeded to rank Owens second and Jerry Rice “third or fourth.”
“I’ll put myself first, I’ll put T.O. second,” Moss said. “I would put Jerry probably third or fourth. I’m talking about dominating the game and changing the game of football. I don’t live on statistics because if you live on statistics and live on championships that’s all political. You’ve seen guys released or cut from a team just by a couple words in the media. You’ve seen guys given contracts or you’ve seen guys not given contracts just because of the color of their skin. You’ve got to throw politics out of the game of football, and look at the impact of what each individual was able to make in the game of football.”
I’m sorry — did he say Rice was third or FOURTH?
Now, it’s fair to say that statistics don’t always tell the whole story, but to call them “political” is certainly an interesting take. Stats are used to measure production. And when it comes to production, no one comes close to Rice, not even Moss.
Rice ranks first all time in receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895), receiving touchdowns (197) and total touchdowns (208). The margin by which he holds those records is pretty sizable, too. He has 126 more receptions and 5,466 more receiving yards than Larry Fitzgerald, 41 more receiving touchdowns than Moss and 33 more total touchdowns than Emmitt Smith.
Here’s a statistical breakdown of Rice vs. Moss.
|Jerry Rice||Randy Moss|
|Receptions (rank)||1,549 (1st)||982 (15th)|
|Receiving yards (rank)||22,895 (1st)||15,292 (4th)|
|Receiving TDs (rank)||197 (1st)||156 (2nd)|
|Total TDs (rank)||208 (1st)||157 (4th)|
It seems the only area Moss has an edge over Rice is touchdowns per season, though that might speak more toward Rice’s longevity as a receiver; he had nine or fewer TDs in each of his last nine seasons, dropping his career average.
Of course, Moss is one of the greatest receivers of all time. You have to be pretty special to have your name turned into a verb. But the numbers lean pretty heavily in Rice’s favor, certainly enough that it’s hard to imagine there are three receivers better than him in the history of the game.
Owens did bring up the point that Rice played most of his career with a pair of Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Joe Montana and Steve Young.
“When you think about Jerry and the quarterbacks he played with, he never had a drop-off in quarterback. He went from one Hall of Fame quarterback to another,” Owens said.
That’s a fair point from T.O., but it’s also fair to consider how much Montana and Young benefited from playing with Rice as well. Rice was the ultimate receiver: a great route runner with impeccable hands (his career catch percentage of 62.4 ranks well ahead of Moss’s 56.4), and the explosiveness to make him a home run threat, too.
Moss later dropped in a “no disrespect” line: “I don’t want people to think myself and T.O. is slandering or bashing anything Jerry did, because Jerry was at the top.”
Just not the very top. Two or three places from the top. Which is pretty disrespectful.