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Is Randy Moss the Greatest WR in NFL History?

By Jared Smola | Updated on Tue, 23 May 2023 . 1:27 PM EDT
[caption id="attachment_940" align="alignnone" width="470" caption="Moss set an NFL record with 23 receiving TDs with the Patriots in 2007."][/caption] by Jared Smola Randy Moss hasn't made much noise on the field for the San Francisco 49ers this year. But he caused quite a commotion at Super Bowl Media Day on Tuesday. "I really do think I'm the greatest receiver to ever play this game," Moss said with a straight face. It didn't take long before Jerry Rice fired this shot back: "Put my numbers up against his numbers." Fair enough. Let's do it! Rice played 20 NFL seasons. He compiled 1,549 catches, 22,895 yards, and 197 TDs. He's the league's all-time leader in all 3 categories. As for Moss, he's currently in his 14th season. His career totals sit at 982 catches, 15,292 yards, and 156 TDs. Hall of Fame numbers for sure. But not at Rice's level. And even though Moss plans on playing at least one more year, he won't threaten Rice's records. Of course, Rice's longevity has a lot to do with his gaudy numbers. So how does Moss compare on a per-game basis? Rice played in a whopping 303 regular season games. His average line was 5.1 catches, 75.6 yards, and .65 TDs. Moss, meanwhile, has 218 games on his NFL resume. That gives him per-game averages of 4.5 catches, 70.1 yards, and .72 TDs. He still falls short in the catch and yardage departments, but Moss gets the checkmark in scoring rate. He also holds the edge in yards-per-catch average, sporting a career 15.6 mark, compared to Rice's 14.8. Still, Rice was a more consistent producer. And he did it over a longer period of time. The guy recorded 14 different 1,000-yard seasons; 11 over 1,200 yards. Moss has hit quadruple digits 10 times, with 8 of those topping 1,200 yards. Moss does stack up well against Rice if we look at season-to-season TD production. Moss' 23 scores with the Patriots in 2007 were the most in NFL history. Rice previously held the record with 22 in 1987. Both guys have 9 seasons of 10+ TDs. It's not a stretch to argue that Moss is the best big-play and scoring threat the position has ever seen. But that doesn't make him the greatest wide receiver of all-time. Rice more was well-rounded and more reliable. Now, Moss was certainly the superior natural athlete. The guy goes 6'4, 210 pounds and blazed a 4.25 40-yard dash at his Pro Day prior to the 1998 NFL Draft. Rice's measurements were much more human: 6'2, 200 pounds, 4.71 40-time. Moss had the physical ability to be the greatest wide receiver in NFL history. But he was always a little too concerned about his next TD celebration. Rice, on the other hand, was blessed with plenty of natural ability. He coupled that with elite work ethic, drive, and commitment to become the best to ever play the game. The NFL is a production-based business. And simply put, Rice was more productive than Moss. His name litters the record books. The accolades are far too voluminous to list. And there's one more thing Jerry's produced more of: Super Bowl rings. 3 of them. Moss is still looking for his first title. So Randy, next time you go tossing "greatest ever" claims around, check the numbers.
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