Everyone always assumes that Jerry Rice was the greatest wide receiver of all time, but he was helped greatly by playing most of his career with Joe Montana, possibly the greatest quarterback ever, and Steve Young, the all-time passer ratings leader. Well, Randy Moss now has a chance to argue he’s better than Rice and Packer great Don Hutson (the greatest player of all time before Jim Brown came along). Or, rather, Tom Brady and Brett Favre get a chance to argue Moss’ case.
Besides ranking No. 2 all-time in touchdown catches and 100-yard games and No. 5 all-time in yards, Moss’ argument comes down to how drastically he has changed teams, and their quarterbacks, once he has joined a new team. The Randy Moss effect on entanglement is chronicled brilliantly and extensively here, where the author on skepticalsports.com talks about the entanglements of sports and how some players can make others look better or worse:
There have been 6 quarterbacks who have started 9 or more games in a season with Randy Moss as one of their receivers (for obvious reasons, I have replaced Chad Pennington with Kerry Collins for this analysis).
Only two of them had starting jobs in the seasons immediately prior to those with Moss (Kerry Collins, Tom Brady).
Only one of them had a starting job in the season immediately following those with Moss (Matt Cassell).
Pro Bowl appearances of quarterbacks throwing to Moss: 6. Pro-Bowl appearances of quarterbacks after throwing to Moss: 0.
Daunte Culpepper made the Pro Bowl 3 times in his 5 seasons throwing to Moss. He has won a combined 5 games as a starting quarterback in 5 seasons since.
No receiver has ever had a more drastic positive effect on quarterbacks than Moss. Tom Brady never even had 30 TD passes in a season before Moss came to New England, then jumped to a record of 50. He’s had his three highest passer ratings of his career (117.2, 96.2 and 109.0 this year) in his three years with Moss and the two highest yardage totals of his career with his two full seasons with Moss. Now, will he go back to the old Tom Brady of a low 90s passer rating and 26 or 28 TD passes without Moss, or will he continue this new career path? That’s part one of the Moss test.
Part II is what Favre does. Brett Favre didn’t magically get better at age 40; he had the best statistical year of his career because he was surrounded with so much explosive talent, from Adrian Peterson to Sidney Rice to Percy Harvin to No. 3 receiver Bernard Berrian (who would be the best receiver the Bears have had in about 10 years, but will be No. 4 in Minnesota when Rice returns from an injury). But Favre has gotten off to a poor start this year with a 60.4 passer rating through three games and the Vikings rank No. 24 in the NFL in passing yards. If Favre throws for 4,000-plus yards again with a 100 passer rating with Moss in tow and Brady falls back to earth, it will be hard to argue that Moss isn’t the greatest ever. Of course, that’s a big if, but look at what he’s done already.
Jeff George and Randall Cunningham were basically out of football until they were paired with Moss and had the greatest seasons of their careers. Every quarterback he’s ever played with looked drastically better once he got to throw to Moss and drastically worse once Moss (or the quarterback) moved on.