Diehard San Francisco 49ers fan and award-winning Cajun Tomato correspondent Lloyd Nelson asked me today on Facebook whether I thought Randy Moss or Terrell Owens would produce bigger stats this season. He did so hoping to bait me into an argument, knowing how much I loathe the Niners. The Niners’ repeated floggings of my hometown New Orleans Saints in the 1990s blinded me to rational thought about them, but I am not dumb.
Both Moss and Owens have had superlative NFL careers worthy of Hall of Fame consideration when they retire. What’s left in their gas tanks, however, is in question. I am willing to side with Moss (per Lloyd’s question), merely because he seems to have the easier road to becoming a key part of his team’s passing game. Yet, one has to wonder how he will stay motivated in a run-oriented offense. And, there’s the fact he bounced around three teams during the 2010 season while seeming disinterested in, you know, playing football.
If Moss is the Neptune of sure things at this point then Owens is the Pluto. What is assured is Owens, who recently signed with the Seattle Seahawks, needs the spotlight. He also needs money to pay his baby mamas. But at age 38 and a year removed from the NFL, it is uncertain whether he can beat out fellow Seahawk receivers Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice, and Braylon Edwards for substantial playing time. Perhaps more damning: Who will be throwing those guys the ball? The Seahawks have three clipboard holders and no starters at quarterback.
As I have mentioned already, there are a slew of reasons not to bet money on Moss or Owens having successful seasons – recent performance, mediocre to subpar quarterbacks, run-first offensive schemes, etc. The most important factor, though, is history. Even the greatest wide receivers, aside from Jerry Rice, experienced steep declines once they reached age 35.
With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of modern-era Hall of Fame wide receivers who played at age 35 or beyond. Eat your heart out, Lloyd!