I am not a big follower of pro football (I like college), but here’s what I came up with. I took the career yards leaders and averaged yards per season for each player (I did not take into account injured periods, this is like a 10 second exercise). Interestingly, the top 7 all were active in 2004 or more recent… I think this reflects the shift to aerial offenses over the past decade. Anyhow, it’s hard to say. Since they all played in roughly the same era, we can assume offensive styles and defensive coverage were similar. Some may have had better qb’s protected by better O’lines, so that’s hard to adjust for. But here’s what I came up with. Name is first column, career yards rank in second, avg yards per year rank third and years active fourth. I think you’d have to say Jerry Rice, then TO based on those metrics.
Moss is probably the most physically gifted WR ever and if he had the work ethic of Rice could have been the greatest WR ever. He did not have the work ethic of Rice though, so he falls short. That being said, if I had the ball at my opponent’s 20 with one play left and needed a TD, I would rather have Moss than Rice.
^ Culpepper was no slouch and I think Moss was with NE for more than just one season (could be wrong). The problem with Moss is that he takes plays off when he is the not the first option on a play. CB’s covering Moss know instantly if the ball is supposed to come their way or not.
Moss had some off years (Oakland). Plus the greatest receiver of all time doesn’t have to beg for a one year contract. When he went to New England it was a coin toss. He was viewed as a potentially huge liability. When you think of the greatest players of all time none of them were ever a potential liability for their team.
Edit: Randy was with NE for four years. He got a one year contract and had one of the best seasons of all time, then signed a three year deal and his play dropped off significantly. Again, not something you equate with the greatest of all time.
Is it a given that Randy Moss and Terrell Owens will make the HOF as the greatest WRs from the early 2000s? That thought sickens me. Niether of them has won a Super Bowl (to date), they have each played for 5 or more NFL teams (to date), and they both have serious character issues.
Isaac Bruce, Reggie Wayne, Hines Ward, and Donald Driver are all high character guys who have won at least one Super Bowl and have played with a single team for 10+ years. Sadly, they will probably be left out of Canton.
Yeah I know he has a better body of work and he doesn’t have character issues. But you have to be smoking to prefer Jerry Rice to RM given the choice between the two. RM had a grand total of two seasons with an elite quarterback, can only imagine what RM would have done for Steve Young.
Receivers have a hard time getting into the HOF, for some reason they just don’t resonate with voters. Moss and TO certainly deserve to be there though, and they deserve to be there ahead of the folks above. Super Bowl victories are only a relevant metric for QB’s, and even that is somewhat sketchy in my view.
Moss had the physical skills to be the best ever, but he was lazy. As I said before, if I have one shot from the 20 and need a TD, give me Moss all day long. If I need a guy to be there every game for 15 years and be great, give me Rice.
To summarize the discussion, everyone seems to agree on several general principals.
Moss at his peak has / had more talent and athleticism suited to the position than this Rice guy. Moss also has a bad attitude and gets traded away a lot indicating coaches may not love his impact at the team level.
Rice had slightly less athleticism and talent, but better longevity and work ethic, and was sought after and retained by his coaches for his benefit at the team level.
I think Higgs said it right when he pointed out that you might want Moss for a play, but for a gruelling season (also taking into account impact to the team performance as a whole) you probably want Rice.