You may not have realized it, but wide receiver Randy Moss actually did play in the NFL this season. As a matter of fact, he played for the San Francisco 49ers and will be participating in the second Super Bowl of his career when his 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens.
Not hearing from Randy Moss for most of the season seemed odd. Hearing what he had to say at Super Bowl Media Day in New Orleans was more typical of the flamboyant receiver.
Moss didn’t waste any time in providing reporters with sound bytes as he took the podium, and rightly so. After all, this is probably the last time we’ll hear from Moss in the capacity of an NFL player (although he seems to think he still has the ups to continue playing), so going out with a splash would only seem appropriate for a guy who had never retreated from a camera or microphone in his entire career.
With his 49ers baseball cap predictably tilted, and his trademark smile, Randy Moss leaned into the microphone and said in his thick West Virginia drawl, “I do believe I am the greatest receiver in NFL history. No disrespect to Jerry Rice.” Wow, really? Randy being Randy, or Randy on some sort of Bourbon St. mixologist’s libation?
I’d certainly put Moss in the top five WRs in NFL history, but Moss lacked both the dedication and character that Rice demonstrated throughout his career. Moss had a lot of impact when he was on the field…when he actually tried. Moss could “take the top off” a defense…when he wanted to. Moss could go get the ball better than anyone…when he wasn’t pouting.
It’s difficult to imagine calling myself the greatest at anything I’ve attempted to do in my life if I knew that I really didn’t put forth my best effort and give it everything I possibly could. When you have the talent of a Randy Moss, and you decide to take plays off, give up on seasons, and give up on your team, it drops you from the ranks of the greatest pretty rapidly in my book.
The “what ifs” go a long way in talking about Moss’ career. What if he did play hard all the time? What if he did get to play with a hall of fame quarterback his entire career? What if the Patriots didn’t trip and fall in the Super Bowl on their way to an undefeated season?
As my dad used to say, “If that dog hadn’t stopped to take a pee, he’d have caught that rabbit”
NFL careers are not defined on what could have been or what might have happened, they are defined by the actions of a player in the situations and circumstances in which he is placed. Randy Moss, by his actions, placed himself among a group of receivers that had the potential to be the greatest ever, but didn’t have the heart or the character to take that next step.
Moss might finally get his Super Bowl ring this week, and if that happens, he’ll be placed even higher on the list of all-time greats to play the wide receiver position. But even with that, he’s still a long way from overtaking not only the numbers, but also the intestinal fortitude that Jerry Rice displayed during his long career.