Media Day, at least for me, was almost totally about Randy Moss. When I finally got through security and made it to the field, the first tables I walked past were manned by Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Donte Whitner, Carlos Rogers, Vernon Davis and Jim Harbaugh. I’ve seen the first four guys speak to the media on several occasions this season, and the last two mentioned had crowds so large surrounding them that I’d need to stand on bleachers 20 feet away to get a clear view.
So I kept walking, and saw Moss sitting at the next table. Since Colin Kaepernick’s table was next and had a crowd as big as Harbaugh’s, I wandered over to see what Moss, who almost never speaks to the media, had on his mind. Then I stayed for over a half hour, because he kept saying interesting things. No wonder he rarely opens up, because he can’t help himself from being honest. And we don’t like our superstars to be honest, we like them to be gracious, funny, humble, confident, and perfect.
“I do think I’m the greatest receiver to ever do it,” said Moss.
Even better than Jerry Rice, who some call the best player in NFL history?
The quotes went national before the 49ers’ portion of Media Day concluded. Not surprisingly, many people — 49ers fans, especially — have a strong opinion on what Moss said.
While I don’t necessarily agree with Moss’ assertion, watching him speak in person and qualify his comments with his own line of reasoning causes me to pause before calling him delusional or egotistical. Okay, he probably has an incredibly large ego, as does Rice, who responded to Moss’ comments:
“I’m very surprised Randy Moss used that in those words, that he’s the greatest,” Rice said on ESPN’s NFL Live. “You’d never hear me say I’m the greatest football player to ever play the game. I let my body of work speak for itself, and I think I was able to be very productive on the football field.”
“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 I’m the greatest receiver to play this game,” said Moss, who allowed that he probably let some catches, yards and touchdowns slip away earlier in his career.
“Now … my focus is somewhere that I really haven’t seen it,” he said. “It wasn’t like that earlier in my career. I think my preparation and my focus, if I would’ve put that much effort back in the day, it might have been different.”
“Back when Jerry was playing, and no disrespect to Jerry Rice because he’s arguably the greatest. But for me to be able to go out here and change and revolutionize the game from a single safety to a cover-2 safety, dropping three guys deep, dropping four guys deep, and still be able to make it happen? That’s why I really hold my hat on that, that I really feel in my heart and mind that I’m the greatest receiver to play this game.”
If Moss had Rice’s work ethic and perfectionistic nature, I believe he would have ended his career with numbers that rivaled or in some cases even surpassed No. 80. But he didn’t. Moss played terribly as a 33-year-old and sat out when he was 34. Rice played until he was 42 and amassed 1,211 yards for the Raiders in 2002 when he was 40.
As brash as Moss can sound, there always seems like there’s something nagging at him that he wishes he could’ve done better. Many thought that he didn’t care about walking away from the game a year ago. Then he came to the 49ers because, in his words, ”I love this game of football so much.” He repeatedly talked about wishing he could just be “normal” during Tuesday’s session, and why he doesn’t talk to the media all that much … but he probably was the chattiest 49er in the Superdome. I probably would’ve stayed and listened to Moss until the end of Media Day, except after Chris Berman trespassed around the barrier surrounding Moss’ table I looked at the scoreboard and realized there was only five minutes left and Berman (Chris, not me) was probably going to take up all of that time.
I don’t think Moss is a jerk, and I don’t think he is Rice’s equal either. He is certainly interesting, though.