NEW ORLEANS -- San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss caused a bit of a fracas during Tuesday's Super Bowl Media Day when he proclaimed himself to be the greatest receiver in NFL history.
"Now that I'm older, I do think I'm the greatest receiver to ever do it," the veteran said. "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."
Now, everyone who has ever seen him play would most likely argue that Jerry Rice is the greatest receiver, and possibly the best player, ever to suit up. The man who holds every meaningful receiving record by comically huge margins happened to be in town doing work for number of media outlets, and he opined on the matter on Tuesday.
"I’m very surprised Randy Moss used that in those words, that he’s the greatest," Rice said. "You’d never hear me say I’m the greatest football player to ever play the game. I let my body of work speak for itself, and I think I was able to be very productive on the football field.
"You have to look at the stats, you have to look at how you impacted the game, and it’s all about winning this right here, this is it, the Super Bowl, and I was fortunate to win three. Randy, he finally has a chance to prove himself this weekend, and I wish him the best."
Having talked to Rice on a number of occasions, I have never heard him proclaim himself to be the greatest at his position, though we're guessing his opinion is in line with most others. Put simply, he doesn't have to. It's as plain as the nose on Pete Townshend's face who the GOAT is.
Given a second chance to back out of that particular embarrassment, Moss stuck to his guns when the 49ers were made available to the media on Wednesday.
“Everybody is going to have their opinion," Moss said of Rice's comments. "I do not live on numbers. I really do not. If you sit here and just said, 'Who is the greatest running back?" Statistically it is Emmitt Smith. People would say Barry Sanders, Gale Sayers or Jim Brown. Their numbers do not match Emmitt Smith, but people would say Emmitt Smith is the best running back?”
Moss' argument makes sense in theory, but there's a difference. There isn't the same chasm between first and second at the running back position that there is as receiver. Jerry Rice may no have done everything better than everyone else (I'll give moss the edge on deep routes, jump balls and splitting safety coverage downfield), but when it comes to the complete package, there is no comparison. Let's be as abundantly clear about this as we possibly can: Jerry Rice is the NFL's all-time greatest receiver, and... It. Is. Not. Even. Close.
Moss seemed nonplussed by the furor -- he's sticking with it.
“You make your own judgment. You really do. I know what I think. I am not going to sit up here and tell you how to look at it and how to judge it. I think when it comes to going out there, making plays and helping the team do the things that they are able to do to win the game — I think I am the greatest receiver ever, point blank. Next question.”
Moss also said that the negative reaction to his proclamation of greatness further proves his greatness. So there.
"I think that it speaks of the impact that I have made on the NFL," he insisted." If Joe Blow would have said it, I don't know if it would have been in USA Today. Since Randy Moss said it, it is front of the sports page. Like I said, I just try to stay humble and do my job. That is what I am able to do. I am able to come out and try to say these things, but I do believe in my heart and my mind I am the greatest to ever do it.”
So, that's where we will hopefully leave this story, and hopefully for good. It is important to mention, however, that despite his reputation as a malcontent who mails it in at times, his teammates in San Francisco could not be happier with him. The same guy Tom Brady once called "the smartest player I've ever played with" has completely won over his new buddies in the Bay Area.
On Wednesday, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman referred to Moss as the best deep ball receiver in the history of football," which is far more accurate. Tight end Vernon Davis said that after Moss came to the team in March of 2012, "He mentored me. He would come up to me and he would talk to me about catching deep balls, catching the ball over my shoulder, stretching my hands and things like that; just the little details that can take you a long way.” And receiver Michael Crabtree believes that Moss is the greatest of all time "as a playmaker."
Again, fair enough. Nobody I've ever seen was capable of splitting a field like Moss in his prime. But there's a huge difference between running a few routes and making amazing splash plays, and being a complete receiver at the highest level.
That's just the way it is, folks. It hasn't changed, and it probably never will.
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