Media Day at the Super Bowl usually is a circus. Mostly to see media member from around the world ask inane questions to the players, hoping for a magical soundbite. Usually, there is nothing said of interest at this quagmire. But this year was different.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss made a bold proclamation at Media Day, saying he was the best receiver of all time! It was a ludicrous statement. Not only is it false, it is laughable. We all know who the best receiver of all time is. But there are more on the list that are better than Randy Moss. So here is a list of the ten best receivers that are better than Randy Moss.
Few things here. Firstly, number one isn’t arguable. It is so obvious that if you question it, you don’t know football. Secondly, numbers 2-10 are debatable and can be switched around, or if I’m missing someone, please let me know. Thirdly, I’m only going on players I saw. So Elroy Hirsch is not on this list because I never saw him. Finally, I’m only going with retired players. So no Megatron or Andre Johnson on this list either.
1. Jerry Rice
Well duh! This isn’t even worth arguing. No one comes close to Jerry Rice. He is by far and away the best receiver in the history of the NFL. But while we’re at it, let’s compare some numbers. 1,549 receptions. 22,895 yards. 197 touchdowns. Super Bowl XXIII MVP for Rice. Meanwhile Moss has compiled 982 receptions for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns. No contest. Rice is better.
2. Art Monk
Criminally underrated receiver. Monk was always overshadowed on his own team. Whether it was the larger than life presence of running back John Riggins, or he was up against Jerry Rice for most of his career, or maybe it was because he missed the playoffs in the 1982 season, in which the Redskins won their first Super Bowl, I always felt Monk never got the credit he deserved. He wasn’t the fastest receiver on the team. (Either Charlie Brown or Gary Clark had that distinction.) But Monk was the guy that always made the big reception, when needed. He was terrific in Super Bowl XXVI against Buffalo, making 7 catches for 113 yards. Often overlooked, Monk was one of the best.
3. Cris Carter
A teammate of Randy Moss during his tenure in Minnesota, Carter is a better all-around receiver than Moss. While it is true Moss was the deep threat, he wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without the presence of Carter. A terrific possession receiver who was a great route runner, Carter was the go-to guy for the Vikings. It must be said that Carter never gave up on plays, unlike Moss. I’d rather have Carter.
4. Steve Largent
Another underrated receiver, Largent spent his entire career in near anonymity in Seattle. Not the biggest or swiftest receiver, Largent did have a knack for making key receptions at critical moments. Standing only 5’11 and weighing 187 pounds, Largent was often targeted by opposing safeties for big hits. However, Largent wasn’t afraid to dish it out on his own. Just ask Mike Harden.
Combine with the fact, Largent was a great receiver, you have someone who is better than Randy Moss.
5. Lynn Swann
Everyone remembers the catch Lynn Swann made in Super Bowl X versus the Dallas Cowboys. We all know Mark Washington remembers it as well. But Swann was more than just that one catch. Besides being the MVP in the Steelers second Super Bowl triumph, Swann always saved his best for the big game. Swann was instrumental in Super Bowls XXIII and XXIV, both resulted in Steeler victories. Unlike Moss, who disappeared when it mattered most, Swann came through in the clutch. His acrobatic style and fearless aerial moves shortened his career, but he was impressive to watch.
6. John Stallworth
You can make a strong case that Stallworth was a more complete receiver than Swann, his Steeler teammate. While Swann was spectacular, Stallworth was consistent and steady. He could also make the big play as well. His deceptive speed and surprising strength were vital in the Steelers attack in the 1970s. Stallworth was never better than in Super Bowl XIV where he made 3 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Stallworth was also an asset in the running game. A terrific blocker, his smack on Raiders safety Jack Tatum in the 1975 AFC Championship game, paved the way for Franco Harris to score the game winning touchdown. Underrated and under-appreciated, give me Stallworth over Moss anytime.
7. Marvin Harrison
Yes he was somewhat enigmatic. And yes his career ended with a whimper. But there is no denying that Marvin Harrison was a great receiver. With Peyton Manning as his quarterback, Harrison put up terrific numbers throughout his career. In total 1,102 receptions for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns. Harrison is right behind Jerry Rice as the best receiver after the catch. His ability to break tackles and gain yards after the catch was a sight to behold. Don’t let his final days turn you off. Harrison was one of the best, and a superior receiver to Moss.
8. Cliff Branch
How in the world is Cliff Branch not in the Hall of Fame? Granted, his numbers weren’t the greatest, and he did play for the bad boy Raiders of the 1970s. (A team that wasn’t loved by the league.) But if you want to talk about a deep threat, Cliff Branch’s name has to come up in the conversation. How good was he? Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount called Branch, “The only receiver I feared playing against.” Averaging 17.3 yards per catch, Branch had the ability to stretch defences, and put the fear of God into secondaries with his speed. He was tough as nails as well. (You had to be to play for John Madden’s Raiders.) I’ll take Branch in his prime over Moss.
9. Fred Biletnikoff
How good was Fred Biletnikoff? They have an award named after him. The best receiver in the NCAA is given the Biletnikoff award. After a stellar career at Florida State, Biletnikoff joined the Raiders in 1965 and enjoyed an outstanding 14 year career. While the accusations that he used stickum to aid his pass-catching, there is no doubt Biletnikoff was one of the best at the position. He was never better than in Super Bowl XI versus the Minnesota Vikings. On the biggest stage, Biletnikoff made 4 catches for 79 yards. Many of those receptions were of the spectacular variety as the Vikings continually used double coverage on Biletnikoff to no avail. While the stickum scandal knocks him down on the list, I’d still take Biletnikoff over Moss.
10. Michael Irvin
Let me make this perfectly clear. I don’t like Michael Irvin. In fact, I can’t stand Michael Irvin. I think he’s a nefarious, awful human being. He will never get a Christmas Card from me. That being said, I can’t deny that Irvin was a great receiver and the best receiver the Dallas Cowboys ever had. And that is saying something. Irvin was drafted by the legendary Tom Landry in 1988, but it was under Jimmy Johnson that Irvin played his best football. He utilized his size and strength to overpower smaller cornerbacks, to get open down the field. Not the fastest receiver, Irvin was the prototypical possession receiver, who could go down the field when he had to. Irvin also showed up in the postseason. In Super Bowl XXVII against Buffalo, Irvin caught 6 passes for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was Troy Aikman’s favourite target, and the least favourite player amongst opponents. Irvin wasn’t shy about telling anyone how good he was. Brash and arrogant, Irvin could back it up on the field. I didn’t like him, but I’d take him over Moss.
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