Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 Aug 2011

Randy Moss Retires

After falling from Patriots No. 1 receiver to Titans decoy last year, Randy Moss has decided to retire. He finishes his career with seven Pro Bowl selections, four All-Pro selections, and tied for second all-time with 153 touchdown receptions.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 01 Aug 2011

95 comments, Last at 07 Aug 2011, 6:53pm by Mr Shush


by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 1:25pm

And the comeback will be announced in 3, 2, 1...

Maybe he took good care of his money and he's set for life. But there are so many who don't, I somehow expect after a few months he's going to to reconsider.

by Joe T. :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 1:44pm

He has allegedly made some sound investments. But I suspect he will be getting calls in Oct/Nov and he'll sign somewhere.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 3:26pm

Exactly how I see it going. Given the chance to come in as the savior to help some team, he takes the easy money. Partly for the dough, but largely for the pride because he'll have had his fill of all the talk about how he was washed up and couldn't play any more.

by Temo :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 2:17pm

His idea of an offseason vacation is going fishing alone in West Virginia for a month and not being in contact with anyone.

I think it's a fair bet that if he comes back it won't necessarily be about the money.

by Podge (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 4:27am

Thanks to the intergoogle being jammed up with news stories when I search for Randy Moss Retire I can't find any of the quotes I want, but I'm absolutely certain that a few years back Moss was already talking about retirement, how he had enough money and didn't want to just stick around when he wasn't at the top of his game, and wanted to be done by his mid-30s.

I expected that after last season unless a contender wanted to give him a decent opportunity he'd call it quits.

by CHawk (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 1:52pm

Let's call it an Ervaf Move (or the Reverse Favre): Recognizing almost immediately that your skills have diminished and hanging 'em up before your legacy takes too much damage.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 2:19pm

I say legacy schmegacy. If a guy is getting on in years but still good enough to be productive and still has the desire who the hell is this lazy bastard sat on a couch to say he shouldn't keep playing?

If Moss had played a couple more years as a role player it wouldn't delete that amazing Monday night game as a rookie or his amazing catches over the years or any of the rest of the incredible plays he made over his career. Why is raging against the dying light of your physical skills now thought to be such a bad thing?

by Temo :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 2:22pm

You're assuming that an elite player can comfortably become a role player, and that this is a certain thing. Sure, it happens that way sometimes. But the more usual scenario is a guy who over extends himself and ends up hurting the team rather than helping.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 3:00pm

A guy who is hurting his team by over-extending himself has a bad head coach.

A little humilty helps; ie more like Rice, less like Owens.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 3:20pm

"Sure, it happens that way sometimes."

I'd say it happens that way most of the time with wide receivers. But Moss is a rather special case in that he's never liked going over the middle and unapologetically takes plays off, meaning his use if quite limited as a possession receiver or a secondary target.

by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 9:49am

I didn't get to watch a whole lot of Moss in his younger days, but the "He didn't like to go over the middle" absolutely didn't hold true in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

As to the taking plays off, every receiver does. Nobody can run full speed down field 70 times a game. The difference between Moss and most other guys was that he was so dominant when he was the focus of a play that people wondered why he wasn't the focus of every play.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 3:01pm

Of course players can do whatever they want, but if they care about public perception, well, they should know certain stuff, like pulling a Favre, will damage their reputations.

Or to put it another way, who are those dumb football players to tell us who we should like and respect?

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 3:33pm

"...before your legacy takes too much damage."

Kinda late for that. For as great as he was, there will never be an article written about him for the rest of his days that fails to mention his taking plays off and unapologetically saying he only played when he wanted to. By the time he makes the Hall of Fame that will be a major component of every piece, debating how much better he could have been if he'd actually cared.

If the dude cared about his legacy, he'd still be playing trying to put some of that stuff behind him. But I don't think he gives a darn. And that's part of his legacy, too.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 10:58am

Moss had his issues, but he was one of the hardest workers who ever set foot on the field. Sadly, his quote about "playing when I want to" was taken horribly out of context and people like you have been echoing the error for years now.

Randy was simply saying he doesn't need anyone else to motivate him. If you've ever heard him speak, you'll understand that that things often come out in a jumbled mess of words.

by dryheat :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 1:54pm

He may come back if the money and the situation is right, but much like Joe Gibbs, I think he'll be at peace walking away and getting more directly involved in his motorsport team.

by Harrison Bergeron (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 1:56pm

The numbers in this blurb say a lot about his career: in 13 seasons, he only made seven Pro Bowls (I say "only" seven because I've never seen a receiver with his natural talent). But when he made the Pro Bowl, he was All-Pro four of the seven times.

"I play when I want to play," indeed.

by dryheat :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 2:10pm

Indeed. Years down the road, when the GOAT wide receivers are being debated, the list will look something like:

1. Jerry Rice
2. Motivated Randy Moss
~12. Randy Moss

I think one of his lesser-talked about legacies is the use of "motivated" as a player qualifier. We're seeing it to describe Haynesworth and some other this off-season, and I don't expect the media to use it any less going forward. It's the new "shutdown" corner.

I am happy he decided not to sign with the Jets, as I'm sure he'd be properly motivated to play the Patriots twice a year.

by Theo :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 2:10pm

ESPN America is doing a rerun of the 2007 MNF game of the Patriots vs the Ravens.
Which is awesome for so many reasons and Randy Moss is one of them.

by Tom Gower :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 2:15pm

Just because I don't think I ever linked to them, I wrote posts on every time Randy Moss was thrown the ball this year, first on the Pats-Vikings part, then on the Titans part. From the second post,

As for Moss's future in the NFL, the Titans don't seem to, and shouldn't, have any real interest in bringing him back, so frankly I don't really care. If he can still be an elite receiver in the NFL, I didn't really see it in watching every pass thrown his direction this year, and given the rest of the stuff he brings with him, I don't think he or another team will be too interested in bringing him in to be a complementary receiver. It wouldn't surprise me to see this be the end of his NFL career, and his Titans tenure be regarded as a disconcordant footnote, sort of like Joe Namath's time with the Rams.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 3:53pm

You've watched all that footage and I haven't, but from your write-up it sounds like the main criticism was that Moss was dropping any pass where a defender so much as breathed on him. That sounds to me much more like he was dogging it than that he's lost it. He would have no value to a franchise that didn't have both at least decent quarterbacking and the prospect of some sort of contention, but I'm surprised the Jets went with Burress rather than trying more seriously for him, and also thought the Rams, and a reunion with McDaniels, might have been a great fit.

by Tom Gower :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 8:16pm

Oh, I couldn't tell for sure that he'd lost it or if he was merely dogging it. Either one, I think, is a big risk for a team that considers signing him. I also liked Andrew Brandt's twitter comment that "Randy Moss is retired until a team he'd like to play for unretires him."

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 6:45am

Dogging it's a more predictable and manageable risk, though. It's not like he dogs it at random. He needs to feel wanted, and valued, and he needs not to feel his team-mates (and most of all his quarterback) are dragging him down. If you have a good quarterback and are prepared to make nice, I think that risk can essentially be eliminated. And if he can still turn it on, even to 85% of what he used to be capable of . . .

by Nathan :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 4:02pm

One of the more interesting and enigmatic players of our time. I always had a soft spot for Randy, even before he joined the Pats. His incredible one handed catches, effortless speed and that drawl of his will be missed by this football fan.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 4:39pm

According from Cris "Official Friend of Randy" Carter, Moss sought a multiyear deal from NE and was turned down, then contacted the Jets similarly and was again turned down.

by MJK :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 4:47pm

So let the debate begin...who had the better career, do you think? Randy Moss, or T.O.?

I think (although I should probably check) that Randy had the better overall numbers, but TO played more consistently (for all of his headcasedness, TO played amazingly hard every time I saw him play, while Randy took plays off).

Yet TO was a major locker room cancer, while Randy was just a bit of a distraction.

I think both are probably HOF-bound, if the selectors look past the "buts" associated with each. But who was better?

by nat :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 5:12pm

Well, they both played essentially as full time starters 99-04 and 06-09. Over those seasons, TO had better DYAR and DVOA three times. Moss had better Football Outsider numbers seven times. So, despite taking plays off, Moss was more productive and more efficient most of the seasons that both of them played.

Consistency doesn't really help your case if your are consistently behind the "inconsistent" one you are being compared to. Playing hard every play is to be admired. But maybe it's not the most effective way to play after all.

After that, you might consider the quality of teammates, opponents, weather/dome effects, etc to make a case for TO. But you'd have to make the case.

by ChicagoRaider :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 5:50pm

Do those numbers take into account blocks thrown (or turnstiled in Randy's case)?

by Eddo :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 6:31pm

I always felt that a motivated Moss was a pretty good blocker for a WR. Owens, however, was never anything special.

by Podge (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 4:21am

Would blocking numbers take into account the times a CB and safety were run out of the play just because Moss looked like he might be considering thinking about maybe possibly running a vague approximation of a fly?

by Theo :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 5:46pm

Moss for a game, TO for a season, Andre Reed for a career. (And Andre Reed when I'm 32 points behind vs the Oilers.)

by dryheat :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 9:00pm

Andre Reed is one of my all-time favorite WRs, but the only acceptable answer there is Jerry Rice.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 9:27pm

Don Hutson is an acceptable answer.

by Theo :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 9:44pm

I had the 'not yet in the HOF' in mind.
Rice is #1, without doubt.

by silentrat :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 11:05am

Why does Marvin Harrison never get any mention in these discussions? To be honest, I've seen like two or three Andre Reed games, but I would feel quite secure in placing him behind Marvin from what I've been told by those who did see him. And no one will even begin to convince me that T.O. could even hold Marv's jock. He caught 143 passes in a season when the next best receiver on the team was Marcus Pollard. Maybe I'm hanging from a limb here but that probably means he was immune to the "dropsies", unlike our good buddy Terrell.

by nat :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 1:19pm

Marvin Harrison does deserve to be in the discussion. Comparing him to Randy Moss with FO stats over the overlapping years, he was ahead of Moss as often as he was behind him. Unlike with TO, I think you can make a case that Harrison's consistency trumps Moss' peaks. Harrison did not have a remotely bad season from 1999 to 2006.

You'll hear some people discounting his performance because his QB was Peyton Manning. But really, he had established himself as a top-tier receiver in his second year when Jim Harbaugh threw 60% of the passes, with Paul Justin and Kelly Holcomb combining for the rest. It took him a couple of years to reach the same level with the inexperienced (not yet great) Manning. After that the most notable change was in the number of passes thrown his way, and two standout seasons (2001, 2006).

Given his performance prior to Manning's ascension, Harrison probably deserves much more of the credit than he is given for the Colts passing game of his time. He's one of the game's great receivers.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 2:40pm

Sorry, but I just looked at the stats and Harrison hovered around 800 yards and 6-8 TDs per season over his first three years.

It wasn't until Manning's second season in 1999 (the start of the time frame you selected), when Manning started to reach elite level (I'd say he reached it in year 3) that Harrison's numbers exploded.

Harrison was a very good receiver, but the evidence does not support your assertion that he was great pre-Peyton. 866 yards and 6 TDs isn't "top-tier" in my book.

by nat :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 3:14pm

In 1997, Harrison was 10th in DYAR and 13th in DVOA. That's top-tier performance, putting him in the top half of #1 receivers. He did that with not much for QBs.

Harrison had just 3 of 11 years receiving from Manning with a better DVOA rank than 1997. Ranks aren't everything. But this was a period when changing rules made the passing game easier and easier, so rank is a proxy for adjusting for rule changes.

Manning did make Harrison produce more - by throwing to him more. But Manning didn't make him much better per throw. Manning gets credit, and deserves it, because he was in part responsible for increasing the number of opportunities without sacrificing the per-pass quality. But Harrison had already shown himself to be a solidly top-half #1 receiver when Manning showed up in 1998.

by tuluse :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 4:05pm

In 1997, Harrison was 10th in DYAR and 13th in DVOA. That's top-tier performance

Top tier? That would be bottom of the league in 1959.

by nat :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 4:18pm

It would be bottom half #1, but a solid starting receiver in a 2-wide formation. But otherwise, I'll pass on your invitation to renew that particular debate.

by Shattenjager :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 4:51pm

I laughed.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 8:07pm

I think we may have to agree to disagree on this: I love this site, and much of their statistical work, but I believe of every number of any kind they have ever produced, the most worthless are their stats for individual WRs. First cherry picked illustration to come to hand: last year Austin Collie was third in DVOA, while Deion Branch was 11th in DYAR. Or for an example in the opposite direction, in 2009 Andre Johnson was 13th in DYAR and 35th in DVOA. I don't believe any stat based on the official play-by-play will ever be a really good way of evaluating wide receivers, but frankly I think yards per game is better than anything FO offers.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 11:50pm

If you think the WR numbers are worthless, you will find tight end numbers to be worse. They are based on similar methods to WR, but whereas receiving is like 90% of a WR's job, it's about 25% of a TE's job.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 08/03/2011 - 7:46am

I see what you're saying, but provided you understand them as rankings of tight ends as receivers, not overall, I think they do slightly better because the way tight ends are used as receivers is less varied than the way WRs are used as receivers. But no, I'm no great fan of those either. Prime victim last year: Zach Miller - the merely very good receiving tight end with the misfortune to be the best receiver on his team. That role is fine if you're Antonio Gates. Otherwise, it's going to hurt you in the metrics.

by nat :: Wed, 08/03/2011 - 9:09am

Actually, I do agree that DVOA by itself is at its weakest when assessing receivers. The reason is that a receiver's involvement in a play is partly caused by how well he runs his route. Run a bad route and you don't get targeted so your DVOA isn't affected. QBs and RBs are chosen to be in a play before they do anything and so their stats don't suffer from this problem. Add to this the problem that a WR gets targeted based on being the best target on that play, which can be affected by the quality of other receivers and coverage.

Still, I prefer DVOA and DYAR together to yards/game since they measure the total value of plays rather than just yardage, and so consider the risk of interception and the cost of an incomplete. It's best to look at both stats, and to form a picture of whether the DVOA is driven by usage or just skill.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 2:41pm

In his first two years, catching passes from Harbaugh et al, Harrison played all 16 games both seasons. In 1998, his first year with Manning, he missed four games. Because of this, his counting stats for that year are slightly lower.

1996 - 16 games 15 starts 64-836-8
1997 - 16 games 15 starts 73-866-6
1998 - 12 games 12 starts 59-776-7

On a per-game basis, however, that means that with rookie Manning he made 0.3 more receptions a game for 10.6 more receptions per game and 0.21 more touchdowns a game. In 1999, as Manning emerged as an elite quarterback, Harrison's production exploded to the tune of 115-1663-12 (over 16 games), a further jump of 2.3 receptions, 39.2 yards and 0.17 touchdowns per game. Now, I'm sure some of that is organic improvement on Harrison's part. But really, when a guy has that sort of dramatic leap forward in production, at age 27, in his fourth year as a starter, you have to be looking for an explanation based primarily on context. Lewin did research in developing the projection system which suggested that year one to year two was the most common time to see a big jump in a quarterback's performance. Anecdotally and statistically, Manning's career fits the bill in that regard. I just don't see how it can be remotely credible to think Harrison's production didn't benefit hugely from playing with Manning.

by silentrat :: Wed, 08/03/2011 - 10:21pm

Did anyone keep Michael Irvin out because Troy Aikman was so great? And it seems like they also let that wimp Raymond Berry ride Johnny U's coattails to Canton.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 08/05/2011 - 7:45am

Most HOF WRs played with great QBs.

by Mr Shush :: Sun, 08/07/2011 - 6:53pm

Sure. But what we're discussing here is how Harrison compares with his contemporaries. Is he in the same category as Moss and Owens, or the same category as Holt, Bruce, Ochocinco etc? To that end, I think it's pretty germane to say he had noticeably better quarterbacking than Owens (and Holt, and Bruce) and vastly better quarterbacking than Moss (and Ochocinco).

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 7:49pm

Moss hands down; TO's drop problems plus the fact that he was an utterly awful teammate rule him out of the discussion. Moss was freakishly good when he played hard, which was often enough for him to be first-ballot HOF. If Randy Moss does not go into the HOF on his first ballot, something is very wrong here. Off-the-field stuff is a factor for MLB's HOF, not the NFL, and it shouldn't be part of the discussion.

by Jerry :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 4:14am

It'll depend on who's eligible at the time, but it's not hard to imagine Moss not getting in on the first ballot. If there's a choice between Moss and a guy whose effort was never in question, there are enough voters who will go with the player who always did everything he could to help his team win.

by Dean :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 8:56am

Who cares about the first ballot?

You don’t get into a special “first ballot” wing. Your jacket is the same color. Your bust is the same size.

A guy like Floyd Little isn’t somehow “less” of a Hall of Famer because he had to wait.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 10:39am

Well, the HOF is clearly the HOF, but "first ballot" carries with it the implication of "the greatest ever"; these are guys like Rice, LT, Montana, and the others for whom there's no debate. I put Moss in that category.

Yes, in the end, it's all the same, but there's a certain cachet to being first-ballot, and I think Moss deserves that.

by Dean :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 11:10am

But should it carry any extra connotation? I don’t think it should. You are either a Hall of Famer or not. Greatest ever is a separate conversation. A guy like Ray Lewis is one of the greatest ever. He’s not in The Hall at all – because he’s not eligible. It doesn’t mean a hill of beans whether he gets in 5 years after he retires or 45 years after.

If there is a certain cachet to being first ballot, there shouldn’t be. This isn’t baseball.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 11:16am

I actually sort of like to pretend Floyd Little isn't a Hall of Famer . . .

by Dean :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 11:22am

So pick someone on your team. I personally think Michael Irvin is a complete jackass, but I wouldn't dispute that he's a Hall of Famer, and I wouldn't cheapen the honor by pretending that he's somehow less of a Hall of Famer because he didn't get in on the first try.

by Independent George :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 2:29pm

I'm a lifelong Giants fan who hate-Hate-HATES the Cowboys - and Irvin worst of all - but I think it was a travesty he didn't get in until his third year of eligibility. Only two made it in 2005 (Marino, Young), four in 2006 (Aikman, Carson, Moon, White) - it's not like he was being kept out by another worthy player.

It's not the fans who originated the idea that a 'first-ballot' as a separate honor, but by two-bit hack writers exercising the only power they will ever have by refusing to vote out of personal spite, or hold out votes as bargaining chips until 'their' players get a hearing.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 2:50pm

I wish I could, but my team doesn't have any hall of famers . . .

Sorry, I just do think it's a somewhat meaningful distinction. Not as important as the gap between in or out, but it's a useful shorthand for "no reasonable person could even take seriously for a moment the notion that he might not belong in Canton".

by Shattenjager :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 4:50pm

As a Bronco fan, so do I.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 7:18pm

Yup. Talk about the wrong Bronco to put in.

by JIPanick :: Thu, 08/04/2011 - 9:56pm

Wrong Bronco running back, even.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 8:07pm

Another Moss backer here. And as a Packers fan, I saw enough of both. When Moss wanted to play and had a QB who could get him the ball, you couldn't stop him with a triple team. As others have pointed out, his stats are better. The only way to really stop Moss was to get inside his head. I don't think taking plays off was a big deal. (Though taking games and seasons off was inexcusable.)

by Independent George :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 10:41pm

What about Steve Smith?

He doesn't have the longevity, but his peak? I'll put Steve Smith's 2005 season against any by Moss or TO.

Torry Holt?

by tuluse :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 1:32am

I think Steve Smith should have won MVP in 2005. He did more than any non-QB for that team than any player I've ever seen.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 11:22am

I wouldn't have minded if Jones or Brady had won, but Alexander was by far the worst MVP choice I can remember.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 12:38am

Moss. Although you can get into the argument that TO actually 'did' more, but Moss had the higher peak.

Moss did take plays off, he did dog it in Oakland (only in 2006, as in 2005 he seemed to be pretty committed and at least from a standard stats view played pretty well) and probably in Tennessee as well, but I've never seen anything as scary at the WR position than a committed Randy Moss. The real key to the 2007 Patriots: Randy Moss playing his ass off (that and a great o-line). I will go to the grave fighting that Randy Moss was the real MVP in 2007.

TO was a great, great player, but I would take Moss. I probably won't be telling my grand-kids that I saw TO play, but I'll tell them about the year that Brady just lofted up moonballs and Moss came down with a lot of them, or how he had great seasons and the Vikigns made the playoffs three straight years with three different starting QBs (Cunningham, George, Culpepper).

by QQ (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 5:10pm

I think Moss was better than TO. Personally, I place more value on someone's peak rather than someone's consistency. It doesn't hurt Moss that the 2 Highest Scoring Offenses in NFL History have 1 Link Between them-Moss as their Best Receiver.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 6:23pm

I don't like Moss taking plays off and all that junk, but it kind of amazes me the question would even be asked...Moss was far better than T.O. Not taking anything away from T.O., but he never changed games the way Moss could.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 6:57pm

I'm with you - this isn't close. TO's been an outstanding receiver, but I'm not convinced he was any better than the likes of Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson - in fact, given his propensity for drops, he might not have been as good as those two. Moss, for all his eccentricities, was simply something else. Owens: clear hall of famer. Moss: greatest deep threat of all time, and worthy of serious consideration for the WR2 spot on an all time all pro team.

Both definitely well ahead of Harrison/Holt/Bruce/Wayne etc, for me at least. And don't even start with the Hines Ward crap . . .

by Tomczaked :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 8:00pm

I think the career numbers make the decision less obvious. TO played more (but not that much) and got an extra 1000 yds and 100 receptions with the same number of touchdowns. Moss had more talent, TO more drive (freakish physical training). I think the drive counts for something. Harrison is in the conversation in my book (precision, dedication, consistency) - except he's apparently a violent thug off the field so I'm ok dropping him

by John (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 9:48pm

Let's at least give the man a day in court before dismissing him as a violent thug. It's one thing (and bad enough, even though I'll shamefully admit to this one) to look at someone who's found "not guilty" in a trial and still label him/her guilty, but to call someone guilty who's never been charged...

And in terms of intangibles, it's telling but unfortunate that on the play that essentially ended Marvin's career he was blocking for Addai. Darnit.

by Tomczaked :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 9:55pm

Yes. Extremely classy, team oriented guy on the field. Hard to reconcile with the reports of his thuggery. Don't know that it's true, but the reported evidence appears pretty strong. Response was more flippant than accusatory...

by BaronFoobarstein :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 10:06pm

Wouldn't be the first time. Look at Ray Lewis.

by Theo :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 10:26pm

If Y is guilty, then it doesn't mean X is too.

by tally :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 10:59pm

Your argument that his statement was a straw man is a straw man. He didn't say that Harrison was guilty because Lewis also had off-field issues. He's refuting the argument that Harrison's on-field actions make it difficult to believe he would have off-field issues by providing an example and stating that those two attributes are not mutually exclusive.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 7:49am

Also, the only think Lewis was guilty of was obstruction of justice, in a case where the people actually accused of murder (not Lewis) were eventually acquitted.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 6:30am

I think you have to give some consideration to quality of quarterbacking. Owens has by and large had very good (but almost never great) quarterbacking - the last few years of Young, Garcia in his prime, McNabb in his, Romo. Moss has had a wildly mixed bag, from prime Tom Brady to half a season each of Andrew Walter and Aaron Brooks. Harrison spent 11 of his 13 years catching passes from Peyton Manning. And where it's almost undeniable that Moss made his quarterbacks look considerably better than they were (even Brady), and there's pretty fair evidence to say TO did likewise, Manning has just carried right on being Manning in Harrison's decline and retirement (if anything's knocked his production, it's been the implosion of his offensive line). If you think Holt and Bruce are Hall of Famers, it's only reasonable to think Harrison is too. I think all three are marginal.

by andrew :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 12:14pm

How much did Moss change what his opponents did?

1999 NFL draft, after Moss' rookie season. Packers draft:

Green Bay Packers
1999 Draft Picks
Round Overall Pick Player Pos School
1 25 Antwan Edwards CB Clemson
2 47 Fred Vinson CB Vanderbilt
3 87 Mike McKenzie CB Memphis

First three rounds nothing but cornerbacks....

by chemical burn :: Mon, 08/01/2011 - 8:43pm

I think the Moss/TO discussion is over-looking how meaningful it was that Moss would give up on games. I personally have never been blown away by Moss because in 2004, probably the biggest of Culpepper/Moss years, the Eagles knocked them off twice - once on a crucial Monday Night game and then in the NFC Championship game. What struck me at the time and sticks with me now is that the Eagles focused their game plan on taking away Moss and the moment it started working, he just gave up. Both games were close enough that if he had been giving 100% all game, the Vikings could have easily taken either contest. But he didn't. He started dogging it. And that was that.

TO, on the other, hand played on a destroyed knee in the Superbowl and because of his intensity and drive the Eagles nearly upset a Patriots team considered one of the all-time great squads and a 14 point favorite to boot. You can't discuss Moss/TO without looking at 2004 and just how different they were as players in terms of what they gave on the field.

by Marko :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 1:32am

The Eagles-Vikings playoff game that year was in the divisional playoffs, not the NFC Championship Game. The Eagles beat the Falcons in the NFC Championship game.

by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 10:00am

When a defense builds their entire game plan around stopping one player, and it works, the fault isn't on that player. Its that no one else stepped up.

A good example of this is the 2007 Patriots @ Cowboys game. Both were about 8-0 at the time IIRC. The cowboys built their scheme to stop Randy Moss at all costs, and it worked. Problem is, Welker and Stallworth had 150 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns each.

I mean really, was it Marshall Faulk's fault the Rams lost the 2001 superbowl, or was it the fact that the offense fell apart without him?

Shitty fans blame the best player on the field.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 10:39am

My point is that Moss gave up - the Eagles didn't stop him. He was getting modest catches all game lon (15 yards here and there) and if he had been giving 100% it would have mattered to his team. Watch the footage, by the beginning of the second half, he's jogging off the line and barely making an effort. When he caught short routes, he went down on minimal contact. You can't accuse TO or Steve Smith of ever throwing in the towel like that, period. Even in the infamous "box and 1" playoff game where there were 4 guys covering Steve Smith on every play, he was still going full force, every play. Moss was a liability pure and simple in those 2004 games I'm talking about - I'd go so far as to say that the Vikings would have won both games if the star WR's had switched teams...

by chemical burn :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 10:41am

My point is that Moss gave up - the Eagles didn't stop him. There's a huge difference between "these guys shut me down, what can I do?" and "this is tough, so I'm going to half-ass it." Moss was getting modest catches all game long (15 yards here and there) and if he had been giving 100% it would have mattered to his team. Watch the footage, by the beginning of the second half, he's jogging off the line and barely making an effort. When he caught short routes, he went down on minimal contact. You can't accuse TO or Steve Smith of ever throwing in the towel like that, period. Even in the infamous "box and 1" playoff game where there were 4 guys covering Steve Smith on every play, he was still going full force, every play. Moss was a liability pure and simple in those 2004 games I'm talking about - I'd go so far as to say that the Vikings would have won both games if the star WR's had switched teams...

by andrew :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 12:11pm

I don't think Moss played well when hurt... and I remember him being injured the week before at Green Bay. It was to the point where the announcers were even questioning why he was on the field since he couldn't run... then just when everyone thought he had nothing he found enough for one more sprint to beat Al Harris for the clinching TD.

But overall I guess one of the criticisms of Moss is he was never the type to turn a ship around when it was going the wrong way. He needed to be on a winner. When he was, and was convinced everyone around him was doing everything possible to win... then he was incredible.

I think even he realizes this. This is why he was really only going to consider certain teams. I feel if the Patriots had offered him a deal near the minimum he probably would take it... (at least before Ochocinco). There's probably only 5 or 6 teams he would work well with at this point.

by srsbzns (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 2:17am

I have Moss at a pretty firm #2 in terms of my list of greatest receivers ever. Rice is 1, obviously.

The sad thing is, if anyone was ever going to eclipse Rice, it was Moss. Hell, in my opinion- and maybe I'm an idiot- I think he could have potentially been the greatest football player- not just receiver- of all time (relevant sidenote: I'm too young to have ever seen Jim Brown play). Players that can dominate the competition like Moss could when he wanted to come around once a generation at best.

Hell, he said it best himself... "They can't jump with me! Damn!"

by srsbzns (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 3:27am

golly, even

by Theo :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 11:17am

Well, if he could keep his pace of the first 6 years in Minnesota, he would have overtaken Rice.
The ridiculous thing though is that after those 6 stellar seasons, he should have had another 12 of those seasons to pass Rice in receptions, yards and TDs.

by joon :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 1:45pm

i think moss is not only better than TO, but better than rice. yeah, i said it.

Quantum Randy Moss--An Introduction to Entanglement

best quote from the above article:

"I’ve often quipped to my friends or other sports enthusiasts that I can prove that Randy Moss is probably the best receiver of all time in 13 words or less. The proof goes like this:

Chad Pennington, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Daunte Culpepper, Tom Brady, and Matt Cassell."

(the article was written before the 2010 season.)

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 7:14pm

Pennington?! We're counting collge now? I don't think you want to include the QB of Mississppi Valley State in this argument...

Anyway the same list for Rice reads Steve Young, Joe Montana, Rich Gannon, Jeff Garcia and Jeff Kemp. Young accounts for just about 40% of Rices carreer production and Culpepper about 34% of Moss'.

Better quaterbacking, sure, but so is Rices carer totals (about 50% better). My stomach says that even with an appropriate adjustment it wont even be close.

by tuluse :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 8:12pm

Not to mention, Pennington was one of the best quarterbacks in college. He was a first round pick afterall.

by jackgibbs :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 8:47pm

if you actually read the blog post (which by the by, thanks for linking. the whole blog is great reading) his point in listing the quarterbacks was not that they are scrubs or only great because of moss, it was to show that each of them, with the exception of kerry collins, enjoyed career years with moss on the field, and their performances all fell after he left.

by joon :: Tue, 08/02/2011 - 8:48pm

the pennington thing is a little joke. the point, though, is not that these quarterbacks as a group are good or bad (obviously there are a few of both), but that they were MUCH more productive with moss than without him. (the same cannot really be said for rice's QBs, which does not mean rice was worse, but it means that there isn't as much evidence that rice was great.)

anyway, read the article, if you haven't already. the idea that a WR is better judged by the passing stats of his QB than by his own receiving stats is certainly an intriguing one.

by Theo :: Wed, 08/03/2011 - 8:05am

I like the idea of the article, but you'd have to do the same for Rice if you're going to argue Moss was better than Rice.
But Rice's career was first with Montana who was already running a show for ~4 years, it was nearly impossible to get Montana better stats than he already had. They peak nicely with every complete year Montana has.
Young, never played WITHOUT Rice (not counting Tampa Bay, if we did, it'd be a point for Rice), so a comparison with/without Rice, like in the article, can't be made for Young.
Then Garcia shows up, Rice is at the end of his his peak (he's 37). Garcia's performance drops after Rice leaves even though TO is in town by that time.
Then Rice teams up with Gannon (and some others) in Oakland - raising his numbers for 2 years - right into the Superbowl at age 40... lose, hang around the league and call it quits in their late 30s/early 40s.
I think running these numbers; it's safe to say that the transition Montana->Young->Garcia had much to do with the presence of Rice.
Rice leaves 49er country and they manage to win 1 playoff game since then.

So yeah Moss made his QBs better. Rice just peaked with every QB he had, even at the age that would have made Moss retired for 6 years.

by skepticalsports (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2011 - 8:33pm

There aren't any deficiencies in Rice's stats, and there's no evidence that he was anything other than a great player. And certainly the smooth QB transitions that took place in SF and his moderately successful career in Oakland speak in his favor. But the breadth (more QB's, more situations) and depth (greater observable differences) of the evidence for Moss is much greater. This isn't Rice's fault in any way: Moss has an almost uniquely robust amount of data in this area. The problem is that stats (especially for receivers and QB's) in the NFL are so untrustworthy generally, that if you had to bet the farm on who was better, it might be wise to go with the one with the most reliable convergence of indicators (which, imo, is probably Moss).

by rots (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2011 - 8:43am

I loved moss in Maddens but in real life, not so much. I was at the NFC championship game vs. the Jints where the Jints got up early, big, on the Vikes and that was that. Moss just jogged around, never once putting any pressure on the defense after the first quarter. Loser.. the jeff george of WRs.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 08/04/2011 - 5:05pm

Jeff George? That might be going too far, but there are many examples of Moss simply giving up (not getting shut down) when the going got tough. That team was built around Moss and when he started jogging, they all absolutely quit. In the Championship Game!

In the 1998 Falcons/Vikes playoff upset, his longest reception in that game was the first quarter TD. In the second half, he was a non-factor - his poor play (and, yes, Cunningham's fumble) let the Falcons off the hook...