Beyond the Bison: Encore?

Julian Dorey

Columnist

Debating who is “the greatest ever” can get about as heated as anything there is. Sports fans of different generations will never bridge the gap between Jordan and Chamberlain—and many don’t seem prepared to accept that Hank Aaron was a just a little better than Joe D.

Unlike baseball or basketball, in football, there are so many different positions requiring unique skill sets that it’s nearly impossible to choose a clear-cut “best player.” Instead, purists generally judge position by position.

The wide receiver slot is the one that always gets me arguing.

Most fans can accept that the greatest wide receivers from the game have played in the last 20 years or so. The NFL was a run-first game for a long time, but it has slowly morphed into a weekly, gun-slinging shoot-out. This is why receivers like Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison and Randy Moss are all considered top five receivers of all-time, even though they all come from the same era.

For many, though, the greatest is Jerry Rice. He had it all. He could learn a playbook better than anyone else, he had a second gear that defied his physical skill set, and he had hands that were regularly checked for glue (none was ever found). But he also had Joe Montana and Steve Young, two Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Even in his twilight years in Oakland, he put up decent numbers with late-career bloomer Rich Gannon. I don’t mean to take anything from Rice—he was legitimately great—but he did have some tools other guys did not.

These are among the reasons I cannot agree with the popular sentiment. To me, Randy Moss is the greatest receiver to ever play.

Moss had it all. He could break a 4.3 40, he had the critical 6 foot 5 inch height, an IQ that was off-the-charts (despite his questionable on-field and off-field antics), a vertical leap that would make Vince Carter smile, the wingspan of a 6 foot 10 inch monster and hands that rivaled Rice’s super glue.

Oh—he also had “straight cash, homie.”

OK, I had to throw that in there. Moss was the greatest combination of size and speed you will ever see. He had to catch the ball from the likes of Daunte Culpepper (who faded away completely after Moss left Minnesota), Andrew Walter (who?) and Aaron Brooks. Finally, later in his career, after already putting up astounding numbers, he got the chance to play with the infamous Tom Brady. Simply put, though, Moss played with food fit for the garbage disposal throughout most of his career while Rice played with filet mignon.

So, call me stupid but there isn’t a receiver in the world I’d take over Moss. That’s why I was about as ecstatic as I could be when Randy recently announced he is returning to the NFL.

On his 35th birthday, the wide receiver officially announced that he is ending his one-year retirement. Despite a rocky 2010 campaign that included playing for three teams (NE, Minn., Tenn.), I felt Moss walked away with so much left in the tank. He avoided injuries for most of his career, and still showed the 4.3 40 speed in 2010.

The reason he walked away wasn’t because he was “losing it.” It was because of his all-famous, lifelong caveat: he doesn’t care.

He has never worried about what others think, and when he talks, he certainly does come off as a wild child (see: “Straight cash, homie”). When Randy does things the way Randy wants—you could describe him as “Randy being Randy.”

But none of that has anything to do with his play. Moss has been the best since he came into the league in 1998. He has made countless plays that seem to defy earth’s basic principles. He has posted stats that seem like results from a lopsided Madden game.

He’s number one in my book. And he’s coming back for his last round in the ring.

Can’t wait.

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