Define “the greatest.” It isn’t easy. Is it strictly the guy with the best stats, and if it is, which stats are you using? Is it the guy with the most, or the better average? Does longevity trump pure skill? Ask any true football fan, who the greatest running back of all time is, and they will likely tell you someone other than Emmitt Smith. Why is that? I mean, he ran for more yards and touchdowns than any back in history. But wait, Barry Sanders played 75 less games than Emmitt, and Jim Brown played 33 less than Barry, and don’t even get me started on Gale Sayers. The fact is, “the greatest,” is in the eye of the beholder. Just ask a Cowboy fan.
This brings me to the topic of the day. Where does Randy Moss rank among “the greatest” wide receivers of all time? After doing a little research on the subject, I have come to realize, that unlike the running back debate, this one is a little clearer. This is for two reasons. First, there is far less debate about who “the greatest” of all time is, and secondly, because pretty much everyone in the debate played into their mid 30’s, which gives you a much larger sample of their careers. No early retirements, or 12 game seasons. Just the numbers. After weeding through all of them, there is no denying that the only player who could be #2 is Randy Moss. He’s done more in less time than anyone NOT named Jerry Rice. Check the numbers yourself. There’s no debate, so stop hating because you don’t like him.
So, now the only question left is whether or not there is even an argument to be made between him and Jerry. This is where the debate takes a huge turn. The reason being that you have to now stop talking about the numbers and begin talking about the players. Jerry’s overall numbers are likely unattainable, but when you match up their 10 best years in the league Jerry had less than 9 yards per game more than Randy, and 1 touchdown more per year. Close, but most numbers are in Jerry’s favor. But do statistics, in any fashion, always tell the whole story? Much like the MVP voting in baseball, which pretty much goes to the guy with the best statistical season, instead of the guy who was the most valuable player to his team, I think the debate between these 2 players follows the same formula. Who really IS the greatest receiver? The guy who’s training regimen and constant dedication to the game, made him the best he COULD be, or the guy who seemingly glided through 13 seasons, even took a couple off, and is still the 2nd best of all time? Most fans in the world prefer the guy who gave it his all, which is why Jerry will likely be number 1 forever. I’m not saying that I don’t agree with that, I’m just saying that it’s all in the way you look at it. In this case, it’s not the most vs. the best average, or longevity vs. skill. It’s desire vs. retire. Sorry Randy, you’re the 2nd best receiver of all time, but damn, were you a thing of beauty to watch.