Jerry Rice, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens are viewed by most as the three greatest wide receivers in NFL history. However, the latter two may have a slightly different order
On a recent edition of Owens' podcast, Moss was a guest, and when he was asked who the greatest wide receiver of all-time was, the Hall of Famer responded by saying "you're looking at him." Now 43, Moss expounded upon his thoughts.
"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."
While Moss may be correct in pointing out how politics affect the sporting world, it's unclear what the exact relevance of that statement was to this discussion.
This, of course, isn't the first time that Moss, a four-time All-Pro, has declared that he's the greatest wide receiver ever. Ahead of Super Bowl XLVII, in which Moss played for the San Francisco 49ers, he said he was the greatest player in the history of his position. However, this is the first time that he's said publicly that he believes Rice isn't even No. 2.
Rice finished his illustrious career with 22,895 receiving yards, the most in NFL history. Owens and Moss are both in the top five, but neither finished within 6,000 yards of Rice. Rice, by a fairly significant margin, is also the all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards. Moss says he doesn't make his assessments based on statistics, but it's not like either he or Owens were especially close to Rice's career numbers.
Moss' argument is that he had the greatest impact on the sport.
"I don't discredit anything that a guy like Marvin [Harrison], Jerry, Terrell has done for the game, but when I look at the game of football and my impact of being able to come in as a rookie...coming in hot...leaving hot...with all the double and triple coverage coming in...I really don't like talking about being the best wide receiver in the game because I never set my goals to being the best. But I think that at the end of the day, to look at a lot of accomplishments from the guys that they think are at the top...I mean, rightfully so, T.O. could be one, Jerry could be one, anybody else could be one...but I think that when I look at myself, and I'm not looking at any highlights, just talking about the game of football...being able to come in as a rookie, set a record for being the highest-scoring offense in the history of football and then being able to come back 10 years later and do it again, [I think that makes me the best.]"
Moss did acknowledge that most great athletes, even retired ones, should believe that they are the best.
Owens took a different path in his argument. While Moss got to play stretches of his career with Daunte Culpepper and Tom Brady, and Owens with Steve Young, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo, neither had the luck that Rice did with quarterbacks.
“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, making his case.
Owens and Rice were teammates on the 49ers from 1996-2000, though Owens is correct in saying he wasn't blessed with the chance to have Hall of Fame quarterbacks throwing him the ball for the overwhelming majority of his career. Neither was Moss.
Then again, there's a legitimate case to be made that of Rice, Young and Joe Montana, it was Rice who was the most dominant individual player. There's some who would argue Rice is the greatest football player ever at any position. Moss and Owens just aren't among them.