Moss vs. Rice? Crabtree casts his vote

NEW ORLEANS — Randy Moss is making Super Bowl Week news by proclaiming himself “the greatest receiver to ever do it.” Jerry Rice is responding by saying, “Put my numbers against his numbers.”

An expert witness to settle the debate? How about a guy who plays for the same San Francisco 49ers team that Moss now plays for, the same 49ers team that Rice once starred for?

I asked Michael Crabtree — present teammate of Moss and the 49ers’ best chance of carrying on Rice’s legacy as a pass-catcher — to weigh in.

“It’s Randy Moss, Randy Moss, Randy Moss,” Crabtree told “The guy makes plays. Rice is No. 2. (Somebody) might be mad at me for saying it, but I don’t care. It’s Randy Moss — the best playmaker ever.”

By the numbers, Rice is not only superior to Moss; he ranks with Jim Brown as one of the most unstoppable offensive weapons in the history of the sport. Rice played six more seasons than Moss has and finished with 1,549 receptions to Moss’ current total of 982. Rice is also ahead of Moss in receiving yards (22,895 to 15,292), receiving touchdowns (197 to 156) and 100-yard receiving games (76 to 64).

Moss, speaking at Super Bowl Media Day on Tuesday as his team prepares to take on the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday’s game, dismissed the stats by saying, “I don’t really live on numbers. I really live on impact and what you’re able to do out on that field. I really do think that I’m the greatest receiver to ever play this game.”

Frankly, even that argument doesn’t put Moss ahead of Rice, who was selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times, named All-Pro 12 times in his 20 NFL seasons and most of all, might’ve been the best player on the field when his 49ers won three Super Bowls. Truly, it’s impossible to argue — while Moss in his prime was more freakishly gifted than any other receiver in history — that he was more “impactful” than the best player on three Super Bowl champions.

Crabtree, who grew up in Oak Cliff and starred at Dallas Carter High School and Texas Tech, thinks there is a bunch of players just beneath Moss and alongside Rice as all-timers. And he’s in pursuit of those legends, his 85 catches, 1105 yards and nine touchdowns in this, his fourth NFL season, qualifying as a breakout year.

“It’s Michael Irvin up there,” Crabtree said. “I try to put all those guys on that list — Terrell Owens is there, too — I put them all together and try to (learn from them) and create my own identity.”
“I think now that I’m older I do think I’m the greatest receiver to ever do it,” Moss said from the Superdome. “This year has been a down year for me, statistically. The year before I retired was a down year, and then in Oakland was a down year.
Jerry Rice is widely regarded as the best wideout ever, and Moss doesn’t approach Rice’s numbers over 20 seasons. After hearing of Moss’ self-evaluation, Rice told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, “Put my numbers up against his numbers.”