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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Randy Moss and history

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

New England receiver Randy Moss is prone to hyperbole and subsequent contradiction, so his recent comment to AFC East overlord Tim Graham -- "I'm the best wide receiver of all-time, hands down." -- didn't faze me too much. Moss also referred to himself as "one of the greatest players to ever play the game" but later gave a nod toward Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice's record-breaking career.

Hopefully this topic is of interest to some Black and Blue readers given Moss' time in Minnesota and the Vikings' continuing efforts to fill behind him after trading him five years ago. I played with the numbers a bit Tuesday morning, and I think Moss would be challenged to prove he has had the best career of any active receiver -- let alone all-time. Buffalo receiver Terrell Owens, after all, has more receptions, yards and touchdowns in a career that has included 19 more games than Moss.

There's probably one way Moss could begin to justify his self-appointed status atop the NFL's list of all-time receivers, and it's one that totally ignores the longevity factor that plays a significant role in legacy and Hall of Fame voting.

As Graham pointed out, Moss ranks 15th all-time in receptions (843), ninth in yards (13,210) and third in receiving touchdowns (135). Rice leads all three categories, having played 303 games over a 21-year career. Moss has played in 170 games in 11 seasons, and at age 32 doesn't figure to have 10 more years left in him.

So here's a somewhat skewed way to look at it. Let's break down Rice, Moss and Owens on a per-game basis in their careers:

By the Numbers
Player Games Rec./Game Yards/Game TD/Game
Jerry Rice 303 5.1 75.6 .65
Randy Moss 170 4.96 77.7 .79
Terrell Owens 189 5.0
74.7 .73

In this regard, Moss has been more productive than either Rice or Owens in terms of yards and touchdowns. As a career-long deep threat, it makes sense that he would trail both players in terms of receptions per game.

I happen to think longevity and consistency over time are key components of judging a player's career. Moss won't make it to 303 games and he might not surpass Owens' career game total, either. But Moss has a great chance to inflate his numbers with the return of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. But if there was a statistical category for weekly production, Moss would be the greatest of all time.