Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
It seems we all can agree that the best wide receiver in NFL history played for the 49ers. Randy Moss doesn't agree with which 49ers receiver that is.
Jerry Rice had a Hall of Fame career as a 49er from 1985-2000, setting most of the receiving records that still stand. But Moss thinks he's the one who should go down as the best of all time.
"I do think I'm the greatest receiver ever to play this game," Moss said yesterday on Media Day at the Superdome.
We beg to differ. And so does Rice, who holds the record for receiving yards (22,895) and touchdown catches (197). Moss, who enjoyed his best years with the Vikings and Patriots, has 15,292 receiving yards and 156 TDs.
"Put my numbers up against his numbers," Rice said on ESPN after hearing Moss' opinion on who's No. 1. "I let my career speak for itself."
You can't blame Moss for believing in himself, though. Even if he's not the greatest receiver ever, he's certainly one of them and will wind up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But first things first. Moss wants to earn his first ring Sunday. Rice won three with the 49ers, but the closest Moss came was in 2008, when the Giants beat the Patriots.
It's been an unlikely trip to the Super Bowl this time. Moss retired after the 2010 season but missed the game so much he decided to return in 2012. He signed a one-year deal with the 49ers, and although his numbers aren't close to those of his peak years, defenses still give Moss plenty of attention.
Moss had 28 catches for 434 yards and three TDs in the regular season. In two playoff games, he has only five catches for 71 yards and no scores. He admits he's frustrated and candidly -- yet somehow not too divisively -- said he's not happy with how he's being used.
"I don't like my role. I don't," said Moss, who turns 36 Feb. 13. "I like to be out there playing football. One thing that I've always had to really understand was being a decoy. Dennis Green just said, 'Even though the football is not in your hand, you're still out there dictating how the defense is playing the offense.' It took me a while to really understand where he was coming from.
"Now I understand I don't always have to touch the ball to be able to help score touchdowns," Moss said. "I don't really like that, but it's something that I'm used to. I have to grow to understand and grow to like it. I've always been a team player. I've never been about self. Anything that is going to push our team to victory and hopefully win a Super Bowl, I'm willing to do."
Earlier in his career, Moss would have been far more demonstrative -- and disruptive -- had he not been the focal point of the passing game. He often pouted then but he's much more circumspect now, and says he wants to play another season.
He also wants to express just how appreciative he is to play the game he loves. He lacked that maturity during his me-first run with the Vikings, Raiders and Patriots. But taking a year off taught him how much he missed football. And upon his return, he became a better leader.
"It's not always the individual results that I'm proud of," he said. "For me to be able to talk to a Michael Crabtree or a Frank Gore and for them to have a good game, that's something I can be proud of. That's just me giving back to the NFL. At this point in my career, if I'm able to be vocal, to share a little knowledge and also to play, if that's what it takes to win a championship, then I'm willing to do that."
He's one step away. But as far as winning the argument for the best receiver of all time?
Sorry, Randy, nothing will change that debate.