Hometown: Randy Moss -- Part 1
Jerry Rice is the all-time receiving leader with 22,895 yards. Randy Moss trails by 7,603 yards. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
NEW ORLEANS -- Randy Moss, bless his impish soul, has attempted to breach the Super Bowl’s notorious No-News-Today-Tomorrow-Or-Ever wall Tuesday by declaring himself “the greatest receiver to ever do it.”
This will come as a surprise to his current constituents in San Francisco, who hold Jerry Rice on that particular pedestal even after he positions himself with Tim Brown on the far end of the “Huh?” barrier. It will also come as a surprise to everyone else who ever watched the game.
But credit to Moss, who has spoken his mind even when its product runs contrary to the common wisdom.
“I think now that I'm older, I do think I'm the greatest receiver to ever do it. This year has been a down year for me, statistically. The year before I retired was a down year, and then in Oakland was a down year. I don't really live on numbers. I really live on impact and what you're able to do out on that field. I really do think that I'm the greatest receiver to ever play this game.”
Well, okay then. Surprise, America!
[REWIND: Hometown -- Randy Moss]
But surprises last only a few minutes in the Super Bowl, and Moss’ claim, heartfelt and as well-defended as he could make it, disappears into the void just as Ray Lewis’ I Never Took Deer Antlers story, the passing of the Preposterous Media Costumes at Media Day story, and the Bill Callahan Threw The Super Bowl Out Of Self-Loathing story.
It was once felt that blurting something loud and embarrassing during Super Bowl week was the worst thing a football figure could do. The flower of the planet’s media was there, ready to pounce, kill and roar its triumph. Interesting things were the enemy of all things Game Week.
Now? Please. There is no better time to flap a yap, drop a dime or shout “Freedom” right before your beheading.
And why? Because it floats off into the ether so much faster, and because there is something newer and sillier right around the bend.
Moss’ claim is at best arguable, and some folks spent the early afternoon constructing lists of receivers they felt were superior. A case for Lance Alworth here, one for Paul Warfield there . . . it all blends together.
And Moss’ case, that he changed the nature of the game by the way he forced opposing defenses to deal with his and his successors in the field, is just ethereal enough to make people think a moment about his claim.
[MAIOCCO: Moss -- 'I don't like my role']
Well, that, and his contribution to the lexicon of the game, specifically, “Mossing.”
“For me to be able to go up above the defensive back and make a catch, sort of like a slam dunk, I hear it still to this day and it’s really hard to believe that it’s me that they’re talking about,” he said. “I try to stay focused and try to stay humble and try to stay grounded, but if you go out to different parts of the country, and sometimes different parts of the world, and you hear that phrase, that little slogan, it’s hard to believe. I’m overwhelmed by it. I never thought in a million years that something like this would happen. I’ve always just wanted to play football and everything else comes secondary. For that slogan, ‘You’ve been Mossed’, is something I definitely hang my hat on.”
How this makes the best receiver ever is a matter of judgment, as defined by those who are fascinated. But Moss’ claim will disappear soon, as though it were Brown’s claim that the last good Raiders team was done in by the other word of the week, “sabotage.”
And Lewis? Even if he smeared himself in ground-up antler on a Rose Parade float, what’s the league going to do? Suspend him on Monday?
So it goes. Randy Moss is the greatest to ever do it. Or not. Depending on what you might think of Randy Moss. But maybe someone will admit to cannibalism by Friday. Or that hardy perennial player arrest on Saturday. We live in hope.