I think deep down, in the soft, childish core of every sports fan there is love for Randy Moss. I found myself drawn to Moss from the moment he entered the league. He amused me for his entire career which he ended after 13 years on Monday. I don’t know that I think Moss is done, but just in case, it was one hell of a career. Moss may not have a Super Bowl ring, but for me Moss has always been about individual spectacle and not team results. Sports need guys like Moss. Not everyone can be Derek Jeter. From his one-hand TD catches, to his straight cash homey routine, to his blatant quitting on routes and teams, I always had an eye on Randy Moss, watching what he was up to, and shaking my head in some form of disbelief.
Moss took over the NFL my freshman year of college. Moss’s rookie numbers look like misprints. Seventeen touchdowns. Thirteen hundred yards. And, all delivered by the resurgent, punt-throwing, Randall Cunningham. I know Moss was different because two games from that rookie year are burnt into my memory, and I’m usually not good with such detail for games involving teams from Minnesota. Moss exploded onto the national scene on a Monday night in Green Bay. I watched part of the game at the fraternity house that I would pledge for about 48 hours. Still allowed inside, I saw Moss snag five balls for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Then, home for Thanksgiving break, I watched Moss torch the hated Cowboys for three catches that all became touchdowns, distance covered? 163 yards. I remember laughing with glee as he streaked in for the final score.
In honor of one of the best receivers of my lifetime hanging it up, I thought I’d offer one of my traditional, oddly-timed, QB rankings. Any given year in the league there’s only about eight or ten guys that can really play quarterback. It’s always in flux. After all, Kerry Collins hung him up. Move on. As far as I know, DA hasn’t caught on anywhere, either*. And, Carson Palmer? Who knows.
1. Aaron Rodgers. This guy’s out there blazing the trail for people like Kevin Kolb. The difference is, he has skill. As someone who wildly overvalues QBs in fantasy football, I’m expecting to be irrationally enamored with Rodgers all year.
2. Drew Brees. Accuracy freak of nature. The last three years he’s good for about 4500 yards and 30+ TDs. Whoops. Beats out Tommy Boy, because I think he’s got a few more years of prime left than Brady.
3. Tom Brady. He’ll probably never reach the heights of 2007 when he was chucking to our boy, but last year Brady trotted out a little something called a 9:1 TD/INT ratio. That is…unusual. The thing about great QBs is that they learn to pitch like veteran pitchers, but can still make all the throws. Brady is a prime example.
4. Peyton Manning. What is Peyton Manning doing at number four? I guess I’d say the neck surgery sounds a little…invasive? Pey-Pey is also 35. Is this going to go on forever? It might.
5. Philip Rivers. I think I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t put any blame in San Diego on Philip Rivers. He’s 3-4 in the playoffs, it isn’t like he’s completely fallen on his face. Forty-seven hundred yards passing last year to a collection of clowns. Right in the middle of his prime.
6. Ben Roethlisberger. Last year didn’t exactly go smoothly for the newlywed Big Ben. Missed the first four games, lost the Super Bowl, but he still put up decent numbers and now carries a career playoff record of 10-3. Not many QBs can match that, regardless their alleged propensity for inappropriate touching.
7. Michael Vick. Vick was incredible last year, but he ended the regular season on the decline, and as much as I’d like to see it, I’m not sure he can stay healthy for a whole season. I don’t think the league will catch up to Vick completely, but I wouldn’t be surprised if 2010 was a career year for him and not the start of an extended period of dominant play.
8. Matt Ryan. Ryan bounced back really nicely last year. He threw 28 TDs against only nine picks. He approached 4,000 yards, and the weapons around him are getting better. The guy has also started 46 of a possible 48 games in his 3-year career, love that durability.
9. Matt Schaub. Schaub’s 2010 felt a lot worse than the numbers. 4,370 yards. 24TDs/12INTs. I think Schaub was hurt by his god-like fantasy season in 2009 and didn’t quite live up to expectations. Like Rivers, I’m not buying all the trouble in Houston is his fault.
10. Sam Bradford. Get in early on Bradford who had a great rookie year on a dreadful St. Louis team. Unless there is a drastic change in the NFC West, he’ll be tearing this division up for years. It’s going to get embarrassing.
11. Tony Romo
12. Josh Freeman
13. Eli Manning
14. Joe Flacco
15. Jay Cutler
16. Matt Stafford
17. Mark Sanchez
18. Donovan McNabb
19. David Garrard
20. Matt Cassell
21. Kevin Kolb
22. Jason Campbell
24. Chade Henne
25. Matt Hasselbeck
*DA to the Panthers. The Panthers now have Cam Newton, Jimmy Clausen and DA. Who is the front-runner there? It certainly isn’t Clausen. I don’t think Cam Newton could possibly be ready. What does that mean? Expect DA back where he belongs in week one.