***The blog below was originally posted on 2/11/13 on: http://sportsnuthub.com/ The site is no longer up so I am re-posting on my personal blog.
There Is A Difference Between “Being The Best”, And “At His Best”.
During the run up to the 2013 super bowl there was a minor brew ha ha created when Randy Moss stated he was the greatest receiver of all time.
Many of ESPN’s talking heads lined up against the current San Francisco 49er wideout, Moss, in order to side with past 49er great, Jerry Rice, as the GOAT at wide receiver. One who did not was ESPN’s Skip Bayless, who would not only take Moss over Rice, but also former Dallas Cowboy, Michael Irvin.
When I consider the best of all time in any sport, the questions I ask myself is: if I was starting a team, who would I want to be the guy, the franchise player, and the face of the franchise for the next ten or more years? Of all the receivers I have seen play, that answer is Jerry Rice.
When you combine all of the skills of a wide receiver, Rice was great and near the top in every category that matters. He had no weaknesses to his game. Then you factor in longevity, leadership, and professionalism, it can’t be anyone but Rice.
When you think of Moss at his peak, you think of great speed, leaping ability and hands. You do not think of route running or going across the middle. You do think of taking plays off, quitting on his team, and being a distraction. As great as he was, those negatives are part of who he has been and part of the package.
Bayless stated he would take Moss’ six peak years over Rice’s. There may be some debate there (although I still want Rice). And I’m sure you can find other receiver’s with great individual seasons here and there that were better than Rice’s. (See Calvin Johnson, a.k.a. Megatron.) In those cases maybe you can have discussions about who was better at their best. But better at their best is a different argument then better for career or of all time.
For example, contrary to Colin Cowherd’s weekly on-air rants on ESPN, Lebron James is far from Michael Jordan career wise.
But James might, and I do want to emphasize might, be knocking on the door of “at his best”. (See my earlier blog post for a more in-depth comparison or MJ and LBJ and where I ask why does Cowherd hate Michael Jordan… here)
In major league baseball there are closers that have great seasons. Eric Gagne had arguably the best two-year stretch of any closer. The year the Boston Red Sox broke the curse and won the World Series in 2004, Keith Folke was fantastic in the playoffs. Brian Wilson a few years back for San Francisco. Eric Gagne, Keith Folke and Brian Wilson are not better than the New York Yankees’ Mariano Rivera, and none are in the discussion of best closer of all-time.
Finally, in tennis, Novak Djokovic has a little ways to go to be in the conversation of best player of all time with Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal. However, it may not be too early to put him in the, “at his best conversation”. His 2011 season was arguably the best of all time and he backed it up finishing number one in 2012.
Randy Moss is an all time great. Arguably the best at his best, just do not confuse that as the best of all time.
About the Author
Formally the host/executive producer of the live web show Filmnut, http://thestream.tv/filmnut, Jeff Schubert now turns his research and writing abilities to sports. In the last couple of years, Schubert started a sports blog on Yahoo and WordPress. Schubert grew up in New York City where he became a fan of the empire (N.Y Yankees) at an early age. The New York Football Giants would soon become his favorite team lead by his favorite athlete, Phil Simms. His favorite sports are Pro football, baseball, basketball, and tennis. As a blogger, Schubert is no homer. Nor does he just stick to writing about players and teams. Like many other fan of sports, the arrogance the blowhards on TV and radio display gets on his nerves. They think they know more then they really do and they need to be held accountable… And then God said let there be a blogosphere!