Randy Moss Remembers: Thanksgiving '98
Joyce Park stashed this in The Sporting Life
Randy Moss is one of my favorites, and he makes a great cartoon -- reminiscing about one of his greatest early games!
How about the Terrell Owens catch of Thanksgiving 1998?
So how great was the Beckham catch? Will it stand the test of time? It’s certainly the most acrobatic NFL catch ever — highest degree of difficulty, greatest display of athleticism, you name it. But it also happened in the middle of a Giants loss during a completely forgettable Giants season. You can’t call it the GREATEST catch when it had no real impact other than owning the Internet for about 18 hours.
My short list of greatest catches is determined by the following formula: “degree of difficulty” plus “impact in the moment” multiplied by “the stakes of the game itself.” So Lynn Swann’s Super Bowl tip catch is way up there. Same for Santonio Holmes’s Super Bowl–winning catch, Franco Harris’s Immaculate Reception and the Tyree FML Helmet Catch. And the truth is, Tyree’s catch is probably your answer. He caught it off his helmet, fended off Rodney Harrison, somehow kept the ball from hitting the ground and single-handedly swung a Super Bowl. Oh, and he never caught another pass. So that’s a worthy candidate.
But what if you’re a giant homer who can’t live in a world in which the obvious choice (the Tyree FML Helmet Catch) is your answer? Then you’re going off the board. So I believe that Terrell Owens made the greatest catch ever. Lemme set the scene …
1998 playoffs. Wild-card round. Green Bay at San Francisco.
You have the Montana-Young-Rice era holding on for one last run, desperately trying to fend off Apex Brett Favre and a Packers juggernaut coming off two straight Super Bowl appearances.
You have Candlestick Park, an iconic NFL stadium, the home to five Super Bowl champs and a significant, Celtics-like level of championship pride.
You have the Niners trailing by four points, stuck on Green Bay’s 25, with just eight seconds remaining.
You have Owens crossing the middle, finding about 10 inches of open space between five Packers, catching a perfect pass from Young while knowing that he’s about to get annihilated by two safeties (remember, these were the old “JACKED UP!” rules).
You have Owens somehow holding on for the game-winning touchdown even as he’s bouncing off two Packers like it’s a three-car collision.
There’s only one way that catch could have been greater: if Owens had laid motionless on the field for 45 seconds, made everyone fear for his life, then hopped up and performed a flawless Rod Tidwell impersonation.
Other than the Tyree FML Helmet Catch, I was more amazed by that T.O. catch than by any other important NFL catch I’ve ever watched. And if that’s not enough, the GOAT announcing team (Madden and Summerall) were announcing … and Pat Summerall’s voice even jumped a couple of octaves! Watch the video and let Summerall do the rest.
What’s better than that? Beckham’s catch was spectacular and impossible, but it also didn’t mean anything. Tyree’s catch was impossible and inconceivable, but when you factor in the rest of his underwhelming career, you’d have to call it at least a little lucky. (Do me a favor — just concede me that point, and I’ll concede that I’m a humongous homer.) Swann’s catch didn’t win the Super Bowl, although it set up the game-clinching drive. Santonio’s catch (and Dwight Clark’s ‘The Catch,” as well) were unforgettably clutch catches that also could have been made by dozens of players.
But that T.O. catch … I mean, how many receivers in NFL history had the talent and speed to find that 10-inch hole on a do-or-die play, run the perfect route, haul in the football while knowing that an absolutely hellacious double hit is coming, then survive that double-barreled hit while holding on to the ball? Maybe eight or nine guys? Add everything up and it’s the greatest catch I have ever seen. Just tell me when we see another playoff game end with THAT catch.
There’s one bonus moment from that clip: The introduction of the Brett Favre Face at 8:20 … along with the introduction of the “Wait, Why Are Brett Favre’s Head and Neck Seemingly 20 Percent Larger in 1998?” conversation that I hope you’ll have with your friends after you finish reading this column. I love that clip so much. Long live Summerall and Madden, long live Favre’s swollen neck and noggin, long live Candlestick, and long live the T.O. catch.