Thank goodness for Randy Moss.
The West Virginia native and San Francisco 49ers football player threw the blogosphere and sports talk radio into a frenzy this week with his proclamation—unsolicited—that when it comes to NFL receivers, he’s “the greatest to ever play the game.”
Almost before Moss got the words out of his month, football fans and sportswriters were Tweeting the superior career numbers of legendary 49er’s receiver Jerry Rice.
It was enough to cause dueling opinions in the traditional media and trigger beer guzzling fans to raise voices and shake fists in yet another endless (and tiresome) debate over “who’s the best (fill in the blank)?”
As a casual fan, I look at Moss’s bluster differently. Quite simply, he’s entertaining, and what are professional sports other than entertainment? Pro athletes may choose to be role models; good for them, but consistently looking to them for life’s lessons about grace, humility, morality and career choices usually leads to disappointment.
Worse yet, a fawning sports media often create false impressions of a highly regarded athlete’s character or life story. Anyone sucked in by the Manti Te’o story should know that by now.
No, it’s a show, and Moss’s declaration livened up an otherwise mundane Super Bowl week.
The Ray Lewis retirement angle has been tired for weeks. True, the allegation that Lewis used performance enhancing drugs spiced things up a bit since somehow, even in today’s sports world, it’s regarded as breaking news that a pro athlete may have juiced.
Who could have imagined?
A more interesting story might be how the particular PED in question can come from deer antlers, and what do deer everywhere have to say about being drawn into the controversy?
And then there’s 49er’s coach Jim Harbaugh’s heart-felt confession: “I’m not a Tweeter.” Not exactly Oprah-worthy.
Beyond that, most of the Super Bowl media day quotes are of players reciting practiced and clichéd platitudes about the opponent or giving bewildered answers to inane questions.
According to a report in the San Francisco Examiner, 49er’s kicker David Akers was asked whether, during this economic downturn, a team could get by with just one player for both punting and kicking.
Carrying out that economic argument to its fullest, could a quarterback snap the ball to himself?
No, give me Randy Moss. He’s the only pro athlete I know of who, at one point in his career, announced at a press conference that he would ask, as well as answer, the questions.
“If there’s going to be an interview, I’m going to conduct it,” Moss told a gaggle of press wags after a game in 2010. “So, I’ll ask myself the questions and then give you all the answers.”
The Super Bowl is the largest media spectacle in the United States. And, like any extravaganza, it needs sideshows–something that sets up the main event. People still talk about Joe Namath’s “guarantee” of a Jet victory over the Colts in the 1969 Super Bowl.
Now we have an interesting secondary story line for Sunday. How will the self-proclaimed “greatest receiver ever” perform? Or perhaps more interestingly, what will he say in the post-game interviews?
Knowing Moss’s history, he may ask himself some good questions.