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Randy Moss, Game Changer Extraordinaire and Sure Hall of Famer

Randy Moss is a sure Hall of Famer. There is some discussion about whether he will be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but I’m not going to get caught up in that lest I get too angry–all that first ballot stuff can be political.

Where does he rank in the pantheon of receivers? For me, once you split out the absolute best of two completely different types of football–Jerry Rice and Don Hutson, Randy Moss is next. Moss, TO, and Harrison are all among the top ten of all-time. Moss may not have been as multi-faceted as the other two, as Marvin was a technician and TO was an all-around physically dominant force. Moss, though, was the game changer, the irresistable force that changed how the other team had to play the entire offense.

I always bristle a little at talk about players being one-dimensional. It irked me when it was said of Derrick Thomas, and it irks when it is said of any player who simply did something better than anyone else. No doubt, by the end of Randy’s career, he was little more than a guy who ran “9” routes. But the most one-dimensional players in this game–the quarterbacks–get the most attention. It’s about how much value toward winning you create, star quarterbacks do it, and Moss did it in droves.

He was the key driver in the two highest scoring offenses of all-time, separated by a decade, teams that lost on last second heartbreak in the playoffs. For his entire career, in games he played, his teams averaged 24.5 points in the 197 regular season games he played, including that Oakland stint and his time standing mostly on the sidelines in Tennessee last year.

The year before he arrived in Minnesota, the Vikings were a solid playoff team with a good offense, 22.1 points a game. They became a juggernaut in 1998 with the only offensive changes being Randy and Randall Cunningham in place of Brad Johnson–34.75 points a game. In New England, the Patriots with Tom Brady went from a healthy 24.1 points per game to the unprecedented 36.8 points a game, with the only changes being the loss of Corey Dillon and the additions of Randy and Wes Welker.

Just doing some back of the envelope rough calculations (since we don’t know how each specific team would have done without Moss as roster construction changed), and using the year before he arrived in Minnesota, Oakland, and New England as baselines, teams were about +2.5 points a game better with him. That probably understates it, because Minnesota declined in personnel over his tenure there (from Green to Tice, Cris Carter, Randall McDaniel retiring, Korey Stringer’s untimely death) and Oakland became a dumpster fire that brought Art Shell and a bed and breakfast owner on board.

The average for all offensive Hall of Famers was +1.8 points above average over their careers–and that includes Quarterbacks, who contributed more valuable. Whether you look at his own receiving numbers, or the impact on the offenses overall while he was in the game, he was substantially more valuable than the average offensive non-QB in the Hall of Fame–even with that lost Oakland year and last season’s debacle.

Absolutely take that time in Oakland into account. Just don’t overweigh it. You would have to assign about 100 times more importance to that season than any other to justify leaving him out of the Hall. Yes, he quit on that team. Geniuses sometimes don’t handle incompetence of others very well, and that pretty accurately captures that situation. It’s not like that team was making the playoffs.

We had to deal with the questions with Terrell Owens, and I’m sure with Moss as well. My guess: the five-year delay actually causes the way it all ended in 2011 to fade, people recognize how dominant he was, and he will be a no-brain choice.

Straight to Canton, Homie.

[photo via Getty]

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