Senior NFL Columnist

Moss will go down as great, but he could've been the best

NEW ORLEANS -- That's just Randy being Randy.

What does that mean?

Does it mean Randy Moss being rude to a kid at a basketball game when asked for an autograph years ago, something I saw with my own two eyes?

Does it mean Randy Moss tearing up NFL defenses like few receivers before him?

Does it mean Randy Moss loafing on plays, much to the chagrin of every coach out there and every player who has 1/10th of his skill set.

Does it mean Randy Moss catching more touchdown passes than any other receiver not named Jerry Rice?

Does it mean Randy Moss treating the media rudely throughout his career, so much so that we never got to know him?

During Tuesday's Media Day at the Superdome for Super Bowl XLVII, I asked Moss what "Randy being Randy" means to him.

"I don't know because I am just me," Moss said. "I don't know what Randy being Randy means. All I know is I am just me. I don't try to be nobody else. And I never will."

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That's the problem. Young Randy Moss was immature, got into trouble, loafed on plays, dissed the media, angered coaches, and all that stuff is why we aren't celebrating Randy Moss this week.

Moss pulled back the curtain some as a person and player Tuesday during Media Day and we saw a more mature, introspective player, the one he needed to be early in his career.

Here's my main thought after he was finished talking: We've been cheated.

Even worse: He's cheated himself.

All we got during his career have been bits and pieces of Moss acting like a jerk, insulting caterers, barking at the media near his locker and handling life as if it were his world and we were just bit players in it.

It's too bad. As Ray Lewis basks in the attention of his last game this week, Moss might be playing his last as well. Lewis is revered, while Moss is despised.

To be blunt, Moss has been a jerk -- and that's the reason why. There's no sugarcoating it. But he's been something else as well.

Great.

Some people have trouble separating the person from the player. Is Randy Moss the greatest receiver ever, something he said Tuesday? No. See Jerry Rice.

Moss, though, isn't far behind.

If Moss were more like Rice, and put the work in to be great early in his career, and didn't loaf and didn't seem to coast on his wonderful athletic ability, Moss might be the best ever. Talent-wise, I'd take Moss.

He was bigger. He was faster.

But you can't measure a man's desire to be great. Moss loses out big time to Rice in that department.

Moss was special, but Moss is the reason Moss isn't the best.

If he has regrets about it, he isn't saying.

"No, because I am me and I will continue to be me," Moss said.

While Moss isn't the greatest receiver ever, he should be a slam-dunk Hall choice. He has the numbers. He has the touchdowns. He has the game-changing skills that made him feared by every defensive coordinator in the league.

"For me to be able to change and revolutionize the game from a single safety to a Cover-2 safety and dropping three guys deep, and still be able to make it happen?" he said. "I feel in my heart and my mind that I am the greatest receiver to play the game."

What if some of the hard-line Hall voters hold his personal ways against him, which they should not do?

"To be able to get into the Hall of Fame is definitely a prestigious honor," Moss aid. "But that doesn't make me. I believe in God, man. For me to sit up here and damper my day because you all say my Hall of Fame chances might be affected. That's not going to break me because I know who I am and understand life. I'm not going to let the game we all love affect me in my everyday life."

That's the irony there. If he handled his everyday life as well as he handled the game, this would be a non-issue. But Moss did so many things wrong early in his career, which is why he's not celebrated like others with his great talent and great career.

Then again, it was just Randy being Randy -- and, deep down, Moss knows exactly what that means.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
 
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