Versus: Jerry Rice vs. Randy Moss | We Debate NFL’s GOAT Wide Receiver

Jerry Rice vs. Randy Moss

If you had to pick one wide receiver as your passing game’s main weapon, who would it be?

We recently brought the argument out of the barbershop and into our Madison Avenue offices. Shadow League All-Stars J.R. Gamble and Ricardo Hazell make their arguments and debate who’d get the nod if they could only have one of these amazing players on their team.

J.R. Gamble’s Pick – Jerry Rice

“Randy Moss may have been the most talented receiver in NFL history, but two words have elevated Jerry Rice to mythical status and helped him maintain an integrity, consistency, killer humility and flair for the dramatic that not only makes him the most dominating pass-snatcher to ever grace the gridiron, but a Top 10 all-time player: Work Ethic.

While Moss is legendary for his flat-out skills, freakish athleticism, primma donna persona, overcoming the problems he encountered in college and two out-of-orbit seasons with Tom Brady and the Patriots in 2007 and in 2003 with Daunte Culpepper and the Minnesota Vikings.

When Moss was focused and at his best, he almost makes this a legit debate. However, Rice talked the talk and walked the walk. He won multiple Super Bowls, made clutch grabs when it truly counted and he was more consistent during his prime 10 years from 1986 through 1996.

In 2013, Moss had to declare himself the best receiver ever because he wasn’t that dude in the minds of the fans. History will be even less favorable to him as the game continues to evolve into flag football. Rice carried the NFL flag with dignity and grace. He didnt have to defend his position because his actions spoke louder than any reception. Hes a true ambassador of the sport. A living legend you can be proud of.

Seemed like Moss was always trying to explain himself and blame others for his shortcomings.

These arguments comparing wasted talents with me-first attitudes and little to no championship hardware like Moss to extraordinarily-talented winners like Rice are usually very intriguing.

Comparing Joe Montana to Dan Marino or Tom Brady to Peyton Manning inspires some heated banter, but the debate usually has an ending point and thats when you start talking championships. In this case, Rice has three rings and a Super Bowl MVP to his resume, but those accolades arent needed for me to dismiss Moss as a challenger to Rices lockdown legacy as The G.O.A.T.

Jerry Rice played a miraculous 21 seasons, which is five longer than Moss, and that can be attributed to Rices legendary offseason workouts and dedication to nutrition and conditioning.


In a 2013 piece comparing the two receivers, former NFL cornerback Eric Davis, a teammate of Rice’s in San Francisco and a man who checked both receivers during an illustrious 13-year career, agrees that work ethic, drive and attention to detail helped set Rice apart.

 “Jerry is the greatest receiver, period,” Davis said. “You had to defend the entire field, because he ran every route. Randy, with his size and speed and hands, is the greatest deep threat we’ve ever seen. There’s a reason we called him a ‘freak.’ There are very few that have ever had that type of impact. But he would still fall short of Jerry Rice, the greatest impact player the game has ever seen.”

NFL analyst Cris Carter was a mentor to Moss when they were Minnesota Vikings teammates from 1998-2001. He told that there are things Moss does better than Rice, but Jerrys total package is the ultimate Gold Standard.

“I wish Randy had said ‘greatest deep threat’ instead of ‘greatest receiver,’ ” Carter said. “Jerry struck a lot of fear in defenders, but there was a whole different set of fear with Randy. He could gut you right now. He could score from anywhere on the field. And from an athletic standpoint, there is nothing I would take Jerry Rice over Randy on.

“Jerry is more complete. When it came to route running and yards after the catch, a term they invented because of Jerry, he was the greatest. Most of all, when Jerry stands before God, he’ll have gotten everything possible out of his ability. When Randy stands before God, he’ll still have some left.”

It would be disrespectful and blatantly antagonistic for me to choose Moss, a guy who never even reached his full potential over a guy who might be the embodiment of the most perfect football player ever created.

To infer that Moss is in Rices class and then chump Rices success by saying Moss didnt go hard all the time, which further implies that Moss was significantly more talented than Rice is straight wack.

There are certain standards any candidate for greatest at his position should meet. Having more skills than the majority of the competition is the basics. You cant become a candidate for G.O.A.T. status starting at the bottom of the talent totem pole. Both receivers were blessed.

Rice nurtured his blessings, devoted his full loyalty to his teammates, never disrespected the game and the only crime he ever committed was chopping ’80s and ’90s defenses up while stealing the confidence of the leagues best defenders.

No matter how much he may have gotten railroaded in college, Moss never learned how to endear himself to others. Instead of concentrating on getting a championship, he is a permanent part of one of the greatest flops in history, when his undefeated Patriots team lost to the underdog Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

Other than a few supernatural highlights in meaningless games and a lot of grief, Im not sure what Moss brought to the game that the 13-time Pro Bowler Rice didnt achieve to the the 80th power.”


Ricardo Hazell’s Pick – Randy Moss


“Randy Moss is the best wide receiver to ever play in the National Football League. Yes, I know thats a lot to put out there when you think of Jerry Rice. But its true.

While some vilified him for being football’s Allen Iverson, the uniqueness of Moss upbringing had everything to do with his attitude, rebellious bravado and unwillingness to hold his tongue.

His story, and the personal struggles of his winding road through high school and college, was well-documented in the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, Rand University

Too good, too bold and too proud, Randy Moss would seethe under the weight of constant slights throughout the early portion of his life. Those tribulations and run-ins with authorities would shape his consternation toward the media and authority figures.

After a prolific college career at Marshall University in West Virginia, he and veteran wide receiver Cris Carter would team up to help Minnesota become the number one offense in the NFL during his rookie year. Right out the gate, he recorded a 95-yard, 2 TD game in his first game. He was a named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and grabbed 17 TD receptions and the third highest receiving yardage total for a rookie in NFL history.

Randy Moss production over his first six years were so far-fetched, you wouldn’t believe it if you didnt actually see it. He had at least 1,200 yards and double-digit touchdowns during his first half-dozen NFL seasons. He caught 13 touchdown passes in his seventh season, despite missing three games.

He made the Pro Bowl in his first five NFL seasons. How he didn’t make it in 2001, with 1,233 yards and 10 touchdowns, could be an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

Many of Moss troubles were completely overblown by media personalities who didn’t like the way he seemed to give the finger to conformity and censorship.

He walked off the field with two seconds remaining in the Vikings’ loss to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field, was fined $10,000 by the league for pretending to moon the crowd at Lambeau, and in September 2002, he was arrested in downtown Minneapolis in which he allegedly pushed a traffic-control agent with his car.

Unfairly painted as a troubled commodity, Moss was traded by the Vikings to the Oakland Raiders. That ended unceremoniously two years later after Moss voiced his discontent with losing and being used as a decoy. Again, the media painted him as the problem child.

But just when people started thinking he was washed up, he joins Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. It was a match made in football heaven.  In his three years there, he complied seasons of 1,493 yards and 23 TDs, 1,008 yards and 11 TDs, and 1,264 yards and 13 TDs.

Super Bowl glory never came his way. After stints in Tennessee, back to Minnesota and then to San Francisco, Randy Moss officially retired from the NFL at the age of 35.

He is third on the NFL all-time receiving yards list with 15,292, and second in receiving touchdowns at 156. He did this in eight fewer seasons than Jerry Rice and, aside from QB Tom Brady and a few years with QB Dante Culpepper, Moss did not enjoy playing with competent quarterbacks throughout his career.

He also had the weight of being a black man who is proud, unapologetic and outspoken.

Imagine what Moss could have done with better quarterbacks? Imagine what he could have done had he been able to truly trust coaches and team owners?

Imagine what he could have done had he not wasted his time with mediocre quarterbacks in Tennessee and Oakland? Imagine what he could have done if he would have played as long as Rice?

Well, I dont really need to imagine that. I have seen what he has done.

Unparalleled speed, soft mitts, explosive leaping ability and underrated toughness were just a few of his dicernable attributes. The only thing I might concede that Jerry Rice has over Randy Moss is route-running and work ethic.

Other than that, the eye test says Randy Moss all day, every day. And twice on Sunday!!!”