By John Turney
|Credit: Jeff Lang|
We are not sure if Moss will be a first-ballot inductee or now, but if he is, great for him, if not, like with the Terrell Owens case it will not be a national tragedy.
We suspect that Owens will be voted into the Class of 2018 and Moss to the Class of 2019. In our view, not that it matters much, both are Hall of Famers but neither are close enough to Rice to share being a First-ballot inductee with him. Rice is just too far ahead of both of them in honors, stats and in championships, though Moss is a bit closer than Owens.
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This chart shows the votes wide receivers have tallied in the AP Offensive Player of the Year Awards since 1972. Among receivers Rice dominates. Maybe until someone gets half or even a third as many there shouldn't be a First-ballot HOF receiver.
The following chart has post-1992 numbers for a couple of advanced stats. Targets and drops. And the percentages correlated to them.Larry Fitzgerald. The thing of note is that he's still compiling numbers and if he keeps up productivity for a few more years he will rank high in the major numbers. Additionally, he and Hines Ward are considered the two of the top wide receiver blockers of this era and some may suggest THE top two.
Not only that, Fitzgerald has the best hands of this era, not only does film (video) study show that, the statistics do, too. He's only dropped 27 passes of 1880 targets (1.4%) and it's far above his contemporaries and it's miles ahead of Terrell Owens who is credited by Stats, LLC with 130 drops (7.0%) in his career.
So the answer to the openining question may likely be Larry Fitzgerald.
Here are the career stats of some selected WRs some already in the HOF, others likely and a few that may not make it but had impressive careers nonetheless.
In reference to Moss, he has several negatives of his own, which are somewhat similar to Owens. In 2011 Jerry Rice said:
In 2001 there was the "I play when I want to play":
Then there was the halftime outburst that got him traded and his later explanation. So, if Moss does have to wait a season expect the outcries and cutting criticism of the Hall of Fame committee and some of those critics will be armed with basic stats like "He was second in this, or third-all time in that" but they won't comment how far back Moss is in those same statistics. Like the Terrell Owens candidacy, the critics will overstate things and say "Moss is being kept out".
It is NOT about keeping anyone out. It's about deciding if Owens and Moss are First-ballot worthy and in totality, the numbers suggest not. Owens and Moss have half as many All-Pro selections and half as many Pro Bowl selections. Neither got much support for AP Offensive Player of the year while Rice got plenty. Neither has the rings Rice has, neither has the "black ink"—a term used for when a player leads the league in a major category.
So, perhaps this time around those who are astute in following the Hall of Fame process will look at ALL the numbers and not cherry-pick just the ones that make their case that Owens was and Moss is a first-ballot HOF-worthy. The totality of the numbers suggests they were not, though as we mentioned earlier in this post, Moss is closer than Owens since he didn't have the "drop problem" Owens did.
But, alas, we doubt it. If Moss is "snubbed" there will be the usual suspects making the usual arguments and attacking anyone who dares have a different opinion based on all the numbers.