But get this: It wasn’t Jerry Rice!
Media day at the Super Bowl came and went with the usual assortment of needy costumed people holding microphones, Miss Alabama trying her hand at journalism and a genuine news story featuring a star player for one of the actual teams in the game — though unless Ray Lewis actually sprouts deer antlers before Sunday, he is most likely playing.
But one man’s ability to still be so out of touch with reality in the latter stages of his career took the cake for preposterous statements. Randy Moss, come on down.
“I really think I’m the greatest receiver to ever play this game,” Moss said responding to a question from USA Today’s John Saraceno.
Beyond the obvious numbers — Rice has 7,000 more receiving yards, three more Super Bowl titles, one more Super Bowl MVP and he has actually led the league in yards and catches, which Moss never did — Moss didn’t even finish running his routes for a good three years. So caught up in himself, he needed Tom Brady and the Patriots to resurrect a Hall-of-Fame career.
That’s why I couldn’t let this one pass, the idea that another wide receiver in a San Francisco 49ers red-and-gold jersey could sit there, straight-faced, and just matter-of-factly put it out there as reasonable.
“Do you think you’re a better receiver than Jerry Rice?” I finally asked Moss.
“I think I’m the greatest receiver to ever do it,” Moss replied seriously from his lectern. “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 revolutionize the game from a single safety to a cover-2 safety and droppin’ three guys deep and droppin’ four guys deep, and still be able to make it happen, I really hang my hat on that.
“I really feel in my heart and my mind that I am the greatest receiver to ever play this game.”
The fact that he actually thought out a response led me to believe he really is gone, unable to differentiate fantasy from reality.
And maybe that’s what this week is all about, no?
“Randy Moss is out of his mind,” Shannon Sharpe told me later. “I mean, you can debate every position in the NFL. You can look at quarterback, running back, who the greatest linebacker is. But there is only one position you can’t debate, and that’s the wide receiver position. It’s Jerry Rice. It will always be Jerry Rice.
“Now I don’t know, if you take away Jerry Rice’s three Super Bowl championships, his MVP in the Super Bowl and most of his career accomplishments that dwarf everybody else’s career accomplishments, you know, I think Randy has a great point.”
Michael Irvin burst into one of his cackles when told of Moss’s claim.
“It’s important that he thinks that because he’s playing Sunday. But once Randy leaves the game, he’ll sit back and realize like I really recognized,” Irvin said, his voice growing in volume. “It’s okay to say it: Jerry Rice is the greatest of all time.”
Someone asked Moss, “What does ‘Randy being Randy’ mean?” and he really didn’t know how to respond, saying, “I’m just me.”
(Memo to future sports stars: If you fall into the “Manny being Manny” or “Randy being Randy” category, it probably means your teammates and coaches think you are a talented selfish oddball, incapable of ever giving yourself to the group.)
I don’t know. Maybe this is what you get when you give a forum to someone who hasn’t done anything lately but be a decoy for younger, hungrier receivers. Maybe you have to have a little bit of The Wonderfulness of Me to ever make it to the NFL and become a future Hall-of-Fame receiver despite your diva-like ways that ruined locker rooms and pieces of your own career.
That’s the sad part: Randy Moss could have been the greatest receiver of all time if he gave a damn at the end of his tenure in Minnesota and Oakland.
Or, maybe we should just realize that, no matter age or life experience, some of us never get it and remain trapped in a Mindless Drivel Bubble.
For more columns by Mike Wise, go to washingtonpost.com/wise.