Moss or T.O.? Let’s be real – the answer might be neither. Both receivers are on the wrong side of thirty years old (by a lot), Owens is desperate enough to join the Indoor Football League, and Moss managed to disappear in three different jerseys in his last year in the league. Beyond that, the wide receiver free agent market isn’t exactly lacking. Dwayne Bowe, Marques Colston, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Lloyd, and Vincent Jackson could all potentially be available –and that’s just the beginning! Even Plaxico Burress, who violated a gun law and served time in prison, seems less likely to shoot a team in the foot than Moss and Owens.
But one fact can’t be denied. These are two of the most talented wide receivers of the modern football era. As the NFL grows more and more pass happy and teams desire multiple weapons to keep up with the offenses of teams like the Saints and Packers, Moss and Owens could quickly become tantalizing possibilities. What makes them all the more tempting is that these once “superstars” will be cheap –like expired milk cheap. If their personalities can be controlled (which I realize is an “if” bigger than Terrell Owens’ biceps), a team could gain huge reward for small financial risk.
So who is the better risk? On the surface, Moss and Owens seem very comparable. Their career statistics, which are arguably only bettered by Jerry Rice, are eerily similar.Statistic (Career) Randy Moss Terrell Owens Yards 14,858 15,934 TDs 153 153 Receptions 954 1,078 Yards/Catch 15.6 14.8 Pro Bowl Appearances 6 6
According to reports, both Moss and Owens have stayed in incredible physical shape and haven’t “lost a step”. If that is true, both careers suggest that a team could certainly land a high-quality receiver by signing either of them. If the cost is minimal, why not take a chance on both guys? How can you argue with these results? How can you possible choose between them?
Here’s how: Look at what happened to the teams they were on.
Randy Moss: Before, during, and after joining teamsTeam Vikings Vikings Vikings Raiders Raiders Raiders Patriots Patriots Patriots Years 92-97 (before) 98-04 (during) 05-11 (after) 03-04 (before) 05-06 (during) 07-08 (after) 04-06 (before) 07-09 (during) 2010- (after) Record 64-48 64-48 54-58 9-23 6-26 9-23 36-12 37-11 27-5
Terrell Owens: Before, during, and after joining teamsTeam 49ers 49ers 49ers Eagles Eagles Eagles Bills Bills Bills Cincy Cincy Cincy Years 88-95 (b) 96-03 (d) 04-11 (a) 02-03 (b) 04-05 (d) 06-07 (a) ’08 (b) ’09 (d) ’10 (a) ’09 (b) ’10 (d) ’11 (a) Record 96-32 76-52 52-76 24-8 19-13 18-14 7-9 6-10 4-12 10-6 4-12 9-7
The numbers speak for themselves. While Randy Moss, by himself, may not be the formula for added wins, he has allowed teams that were successful to remain successful. The Vikings and Patriots both sustained their runs of winning. More importantly, Moss didn’t seem to leave teams shattered after his departure. Even the Raiders maintained their status quo. Moss’ talent, looking at these numbers, clearly helped winning teams win and didn’t further decimate the fragile team he played for.
The same can’t be said for Terrell Owens. His presence alone seems to have been a plague on the momentum of any team he joined. Of all of Owens’ teams, none of them sustained or improved their winning ways when he joined them. In fact, they all saw some sort of decline. What should be more worrisome for coaches and owners on the prowl for wide receivers is what happens after Owens leaves. The teams don’t recover. It’s as if Owens’ antics do more than hurt the product on the field, they damage the chemistry of the team for a time afterwards. The Bengals are the only team to buck this trend and that required them giving their team a complete overhaul of personnel.
In the end, the difference between these two “poisonous” receivers is clear. While Randy Moss may occasionally quit on the field (which is bad enough), Owens frequently quits on his teammates. At least Moss has shown an ability to love his team (he continued to voice love for the Patriots after joining other teams, in fact). Owens, on the other hand, has only shown an ability to love himself. That attitude is destructive.
Moss has left headlines and controversy behind him. Owens, though, has surpassed that. Lying on the road that follows Owens’ storied career are not just news stories and moments he should regret – that road is also littered with the bodies of quarterbacks he threw under oncoming traffic, coaches he helped get fired, and teams that became less relevant overnight.
If you’re going to take a chance…no, if you must take a chance on one of these receivers, the choice should be clear. Despite his zero championship rings and brief calamity with a terrible Raiders organization, Moss has a history of helping teams win and helping players achieve. His rookie year, the Vikings were the team to beat in the playoffs, and he was a part of the Patriots’ team that accomplished an undefeated regular season. He helped extend Cris Carter’s career and was the number one connection of Tom Brady’s historic 2007 season.
Owens has a history of helping teams self-destruct and helping players decimate their legacies. The 49ers lost their luster, the Cowboys their star-power, and the Eagles their NFC dominance. Where are Donovan McNabb and Carson Palmer these days? Oh…right…
Long story short: The answer may, in fact, be neither. But it’s certainly not Terrell Owens.
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