When Randy Moss held court during Super Bowl Media Week last January, he said something that was just short of starting coast-to-coast riots. A reporter asked him if he believed he was the greatest wide receiver of all time, to which he basically replied,“uh, YAH!”
Having the gall of wearing the uniform of the San Francisco 49ers and saying such a thing was spitting in the face of the man who actually is the greatest wide receiver to ever lace up shoes, right?
Like as if Michael Fay said he was going back to Singapore, people lost their damn minds. It actually showed when Joe Simmons’ musings on “The 10 Best Wide Receivers of All-Time Not Named Jerry Rice” nearly crashed the TSFJ servers. Mr. Bull City wrote the article six months before, yet Moss’ comments brought it to light in unexpected ways.
Looking at commenters’ personal rankings of their top 10 receivers in NFL history, it was amusing to see varied names tossed around and where they ranked. One name in particular stood out because it seemed as if not enough people appreciated his career numbers, his steady presence for a franchise in constant transition and overlooked work ethic.
There are quite a few people who have wondered how Brown has been snubbed year after year, so in some regards, this story isn’t unfamiliar to football fans. However, the reason for this particular piece is that when it comes to all arguments against Brown, the debaters should ask themselves one question: How was it that Cris Carter passed the muster this past winter ahead of Brown?
For the recently launched MMQB, Andrew Lawrence lays out the case for the former L.A./Oakland Raider better than just about anyone else ever has. Brown made an interesting comment in the piece about a perceived negative about himself, Carter (before his induction) and another in-limbo great, Andre Reed:
“I heard that one of the negatives about us is that we came up in a passing era,” Brown says of himself, Carter and Reed. “And I’m like, ‘If we’re in a passing era, then what the heck are you calling this?’ ”
Since many like to use the “he doesn’t have the numbers” argument in Hall of Fame discussions, Brown should have rollerbladed past every non-Rice inductee since his eligibility began four years ago. Fifth all time in receiving yards, ahead of every enshrined wide receiver save for Rice (14,934). Fifth all time in all-purpose yards, ahead of every enshrined receiver, tight end and running back except for Rice, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith (19,679). Eighteenth in yards from scrimmage (including fifth among all wideouts active or retired), ahead of every enshrined wide receiver except for Rice (15,124). Heck, he’s even fifth in career punt return yardage, a reminder of his versatility and durability as a #1 receiver and returner.
All of this and far more coming from eleven mostly mediocre different quarterbacks.
(Carter, on the other hand, has 30 more touchdowns but just seven more catches than Brown. Though Brown actually played in a Super Bowl and four conference title games, Carter also holds better playoff numbers as a result of several talented but disappointing Vikings teams.)
For those who say that he wasn’t flashy enough or wasn’t a “game changer,” ask the Denver Broncos if Brown was someone you game-planned for. Consider that with a revolving door of ineffective second receivers, he still managed to give the AFC West hell thanks to 10 straight seasons of more than 75 catches per season and four 1300+ receiving yard seasons.
In researching and bringing back memories of great early ’90s AFC West battles, a few possible reasons for the continued snubs came to mind.
Maybe he’s still waiting for the call because he played for Al Davis, an owner who inspired as much criticism and rolled eyes later in his life as he did innovations in earlier days.
Maybe he’s paying the price for alleging that his former coach Bill Callahan “sabatoged” the Raiders’ chances of winning Super Bowl XXXVII.
Maybe some people really believe that whole “East Coast Bias” thing, although that’s absurd since he played just over the Golden Gate Bridge from the high-profile 49ers.
Maybe this is the super cynical side of this Scribe, but as most things on television, it’s very easy to buy in to the hype of a player, an idea or a story if it is repeated often off the largest platforms. And when it comes to the case of two of this weekend’s inductees, the aforementioned Carter and Warren Sapp, it wasn’t hard to see them analyzing the weekly action and wonder when they would have their moments in the sun. (It also helped that they could use the platforms to campaign for themselves.) If we’re not prisoners of the moment, we’re at least prisoners of the overcrowded studio shows.
Now, there are many people who are reading this who are thinking of a few others who should get long overdue tickets to Canton — I hear you loud and clear, supporters of Charles Haley and Tom Flores. Yet, how Tim Brown — one of several iconic former Raiders that is called “Mr. Raider” — could be this overlooked is unfathomable.
Jason is the editor-in-chief here at TSFJ. In addition to a past life as a research analyst in advertising, television and online media, he spent seven seasons as the New York Beacon’s beat writer for the New York Giants. Jason has written for Yardbarker, Dime Magazine, Decider, Awful Announcing and The Week. He is also a member of his high school’s 4th period gym class floor hockey champions.
He shares more of his perspectives at jasonclinkscales.com.