Why Terrell Owens Had a Greater NFL Career Than Randy Moss

Ryan MichaelSenior Writer IIIMay 20, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO  - OCT 19:  Wide receiver Terrell Owens #81 of the San Francisco 49ers runs the football after a catch during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 19, 2003 at 3Comm Park in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won 24-7. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

T.O. and Randy Moss had one of the more notable wide receiver rivalries in NFL history.

They were both perennial Pro Bowl selections who put up big numbers and defined what it meant to be a playmaking, impact player in the 2000s.

But who was better?

Many will say it's subjective or a toss-up, and they'll leave it at that.

I like to dig deeper.

Because though their production was similar, there's more than what meets the eye when you compare the careers of these two future Hall of Famers.


Terrell Owens (201 starts):

1,078 receptions for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns.

Randy Moss (193 starts):

982 receptions for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns.


If you break the numbers down to a per-start basis, the picture begins to clear itself up:


Terrell Owens (per-start times 16-rounded):

85.8 receptions for 1,268.4 yards and 12.2 touchdowns.

Randy Moss (per-start times 16-rounded):

81.4 receptions for 1,267.7 yards and 12.9 touchdowns.


If you removed the names and just looked at the statistics above, you probably couldn't tell the difference. What's important to consider is "how" they arrived at their productive outputs and "when" they were able to perform at the peak of their power.

My endorsement goes to Terrell Owens if I had to pick one of the two.

For more reasons than one: All-Pro selections, success within multiple systems, quality of team support provided, lack of off-the-field troubles, exceptional durability, incredible blocking skills, on-the-field effort and the ability to excel in spite of father time.

Owens was the better receiver.

Both Owens and Moss were selected to six Pro Bowls; but Owens edged out Moss with five First Team All-Pro selections to Moss' four.

Furthermore, Owens became the only receiver in the 93-year history of the NFL to be named a First Team All-Pro selection with three different organizations (49ers, Eagles and Cowboys).

When Moss was at the peak of his power, he had both Cris Carter (with the Vikings) and Wes Welker (with the Patriots) to help soak up some of the defensive coverages.

When Owens was at the peak of his power, he had J.J. Stokes (with the 49ers), Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell (with the Eagles) to back him up—allowing opposing defenses to focus in on shutting down the offense's lone productive threat.

Ask receivers who have played in the league how much of an advantage it is to have a wingman there to help free things up—Owens wasn't provided that luxury, and opposing defenses had absolutely no answer for it.

Think of how often Moss was used as a decoy as he limped around the football field giving less than 84 percent of his best effort.

Compare that to Owens who, against doctor's orders, signed legal waivers so that he would be able to compete in Super Bowl XXXIX—risking his career on what was essentially a broken leg in an effort to help his team win a championship.

The same T.O. who torched Belichick's elite defense by catching nine passes for 122 yards on one leg—all of that production taking place on the game's greatest stage.

Fast forward to [6:24] and the proof is in the footage.

Compare that to Moss, who days after proclaiming himself to be the "greatest of all time," loafed around the Louisiana Superdome as his team lost another Super Bowl.

Owens played seasons in both Dallas and Cincinnati with a broken hand; only you wouldn't know that without doing a bit of research. Owens never made excuses or drew attention to the fact that he was playing injured.

He had one response—non-verbal—and that was "production."

Unlike Moss, who never caught more than 28 passes in a season after he reached the age of 33, Owens played productively for half a decade after he turned 33—bringing in reception totals of 85, 81, 69, 55 and 72.

While playing for a horrendous Bengals team, Owens managed to produce at a rate comparable to the prime of his career before being injured in Week 12 of the 2010 season.


Owens (2001): 93 receptions for 1,412 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Owens (2010—projected over 16 games): 99 receptions for 1,435 yards and 13 touchdowns.


He was able to do so despite being swamped with double-coverages as a result of Cincinnati ranking 32nd (dead last) in terms of rushing efficiency (yards per carry).

When you consider the fact that he played part of the season with a broken hand, you see a very different man at the age of 37 than we saw of Moss in 2010 at the age of 32 as he played unproductively for three different teams in one season.

Attack Owens' character without foundation all you want—he's been arrested zero times in his entire life.

I won't directly cite Moss' legal issues in this article as my intention is not to attack his character. The point here is that Owens has been in the league for almost two decades and has had no real-life, real-world issues to be criticized for.

In respects to what took place "on-the-field," Owens' résumé speaks for itself.

If you look purely at the numbers and fail to understand the context of how those numbers came to be, you might be under the impression that it's a tight race between two of the greatest of all time.

But I see enough of the aforementioned to feel comfortable proclaiming Owens as the greater receiver of the two.


This article is also featured on: www.blindsidefootball.com

Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. Any questions, comments or professional inquiries can be directed to his email at: bleacherreporter@yahoo.com.

Follow him on Twitter at: @theryanmichael


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