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Randy Moss - Greatest Receiver Ever?

Updated on June 19, 2013

Randy Moss made news on media day at the Super Bowl when he labeled himself the greatest receiver of all time.

"Now that I'm older...I do think that I'm the greatest receiver to ever do it."

Moss added, "I really do think that I'm the greatest receiver to ever play this game."

He qualified his statement by admitting that, "I don't really live on numbers. I live on impact and what you are able to do on that field."

His numbers to this point? Ninth all time with 982 receptions. Third all time with 15,292 receiving yards. Second all time with 156 receiving touchdowns.

Statistically speaking, Moss is not the "greatest" on any meaningful career list. You-know-who, of course, is #1 in each of those categories. Still, on any given play, in any given game, of any given season - Moss holds his own amongst the best ever.

Impact and ability? The man holds the record with 23 touchdown receptions in a single season.


Draft Day 1998

As a closet Dallas Cowboys fan, I can recall the pain and suffering involved with viewing the NFL draft in 1998 on ESPN. The Playmaker, Michael Irvin, would unfortunately play only one more season - and the team was in need of an heir to his throne. Dallas held the eight pick of the first round, and the 38th overall pick in the second round.

Highlights flashed across my screen of an astounding human being from Marshall...gliding across the field like a deer through the forest - gracefully striding his way past hapless defenders. He leapt over his competitors like a ballerina and snatched the ball out of the clouds mid-pirouette. He flew past his foes on the basketball court and threw down alley-oops from White Chocolate, Jason Williams.

It was a vision. Miraculous. Amazing.

This was certainly the best player available in the draft, bar none - much respect to Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson. But rumor had it that Mr. Moss' draft stock was in jeopardy due to supposed character issues. Keep in mind Warren Sapp had been a steal at #12 only three years prior for much of the the same reasons. This was the chance for America's Team to ascend once more to it's namesake atop the hierarchy of American football lore.

Herschel Walker
Herschel Walker | Source

Hope. Randy Moss represented hope - hope for a better world. As a Cowboys fan.

Nervously, I watched and waited and prayed. Please god, let Randy Moss fall to eight.

And as Kyle Turley goes off the board to the Saints at seven - jubilation! Prayers answered. Hope restored. The universe unfolding as foretold in the scriptures.

Commissioner Tagliabue reads the card - With the 8th selection in the 1998 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select...

Greg Ellis. Greg Ellis?!? Who is Greg Ellis? Quality player. Good Cowboy. Very solid.

Not Randy Moss.

The initial shock wore off and I began to gather myself. Denial. We didn't just pass on Randy Moss, no way. Fortunately, Dallas was still in possession of the 38th pick, and thus had the opportunity to move up in the draft and secure the services of the best player available. A glimmer of hope remained.

Each subsequent pick was more heart-wrenching than the last as the cost of moving up deflated with every moment, every passing name, every passing team. Keith Brooking goes #12 to Atlanta. Jerry Jones is just biding his time, he knows what he is doing. Wide receiver Kevin Dyson goes #16 to the Tennessee Oilers. Seriously? Terry Fair goes #20 to Detroit. Minnesota doesn't need a receiver, they already have Chris Carter and Jake Reed. Perfect trade partner, they want payback for Herschel Walker. Here comes the commish to the podium - trade card?

Randy Moss goes #21 to Minnesota Vikings.

Moss' vindication came to pass on Thanksgiving Day 1998 in Dallas when he caught 3 passes for 163 yards and 3 TDs. He used his draft-day slight as fuel to propel him to greatness for the better part of fifteen years.



Jerry Rice, without doubt. Jerry holds nearly every meaningful receiving record. He is first all time with each of 1,549 receptions for 22,895 reception yards and 197 receiving TDs (208 total). He has accumulated three Super Bowl rings including an MVP performance, and 12 All-Pro selections. His insane training regimen, his impeccable route running, his big-game clutch-gene. The man brought Steve Largent's #80 out of retirement in Seattle. Case closed.

The Don Hutson Center practice facility across the street from Lambeau Field.
The Don Hutson Center practice facility across the street from Lambeau Field. | Source

Don Hutson

The only man who could lay any kind of claim to "Greatest Wide Receiver" aside from Jerry Rice - the original deep threat - Don Hutson.

Don Hutson was Randy Moss, before Randy Moss was Randy Moss - only more versatile and more dominant.

Charter member of the Hall of Fame, Don Hutson played 11 seasons beginning in 1935. He wore #14, and won three NFL Championships, for the Green Bay Packers. His first play on the field resulted in an 83-yard touchdown, on his way to 99 career receiving touchdowns. Two-time MVP, Hutson retired with every meaningful receiving record. He invented modern pass-routes, plus he played exeptional defense and special teams. He was the first man with either 50 receptions or 1000 yards in a single season. His single-season touchdown record stood for 42 years. His career TD record stood for 47 years. He still holds the record for receiving TDs per game with .85. He still hold the records for the most seasons leading the league in

  • receptions
  • receiving yards
  • receiving touchdowns
  • scoring

In Hutson's 1942 MVP season, only one other TEAM in the league had as many receiving touchdowns as he had alone. Hutson had 17 while the rest of the league averaged less than one passing touchdown per game over the full 11 game season.

Babe Ruth is the only other player in ANY American team sport who compares statistically with Don Hutson.

Randy Moss is a sure-shot first-ballot Hall of Famer. Randy Moss is no Don Hutson.

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    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 5 years ago from Auburn, WA

      In the NFL, numbers matter but not as much. Randy Moss could have five thousand more yards than Rice and it would make no difference to me. Rice is the greatest because of the way he played the game, not just the stats. And he made his team better. I know he had great QBs, but his impact was still great. Could Montana make Renaldo Nehemiah a good receiver? No. So it's not always about the QBs. And Moss admitted to taking plays off. Enough said. Great column.

    • Justin Earick profile image

      Justin Earick 5 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      Tom Brady isn't an HOF QB? Interesting theory...

    • profile image

      Chris Rosser 5 years ago

      YOU ARE WRONG! 84 is a way more talented WR. He did all this work WITHOUT a hall of fame QB. Rice had two his entire career.