'Straight Canton, homie': HOF selection committee got it right with Randy Moss

MINNEAPOLIS -- Last week, Randy Moss said he hadn't paid attention to the buzz surrounding the Pro Football Hall of Fame and would have to accept the committee's decision and move on if not elected to the 2018 class.

That's good lip service. Moss, who was indeed voted in Saturday, would have had every reason to be heated had he not been a first-ballot selection. He joins Steve Largent and Jerry Rice as only the third wide receiver to be elected in the first year he became eligible.

We don't know the ins and outs of the deliberations among the 48-person selection committee, but putting Moss into the Hall of Fame, where he'll be enshrined with a bronze bust on Aug. 4, was a no-brainer -- arguably the easiest selection to make behind Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

We walk away from NFL Honors knowing the selection committee, which has made more than a handful of deserving receivers endure lengthy waits to get in (including Cris Carter, the most recent Minnesota Vikings receiver to be selected, after six tries), got it right and set an important precedent going forward.

Terrell Owens, whose 15,934 receiving yards rank second all time and who also had 1,078 receptions (eighth) and 153 touchdowns (third), had to wait until his third year on the ballot before he was selected Saturday.

Owens was long overdue to get in, snubbed for years based on perceived flaws as a teammate and with his character. Fortunately for Moss, he will never know what that wait is like. He didn't have to fight the politics of how his antics, the perception of him as a "me first" player and his reputation were viewed, because they ultimately weren't a deciding factor.

The committee's opinion of Moss was apparently based on how he changed the game after he was drafted 21st overall in 1998. His numbers are Hall of Fame-caliber, but they tell only part of the story. He finished his 14-year career having played for five teams, and he ranks second all time in touchdowns (156), fourth in receiving yards (15,292) and 15th in receptions (982).

Moss affected the NFL as much as any other Hall of Fame receiver and did it without being in an ultra-innovative scheme. He used every bit of his skill set to play at the highest level and get the most out of the quarterbacks throwing him the ball.

Three years ago, FiveThirtyEight took a look at the "Moss effect" and determined that the eight quarterbacks he played with had at least eight games in which they averaged 48 more yards per game and had their completion and touchdown percentages rise by 3.7 percentage points and 1.6 percentage points, respectively -- in sum, averaging about a full yard per pass attempt more in games with Moss than those without.

Moss forced his opponents to come up with complex and exotic defensive schemes in an era in which bracket coverages and safeties over the top weren't seen all that often. During the 14 seasons Moss was in the NFL, defenses had to try to be better so they could attempt to stop him.

Many tried. In the end, few were able.

The six-time Pro Bowler had eight seasons with at least 1,200 receiving yards and seven with at least 70 receptions.

He never won a Super Bowl, but that didn't matter to the Hall of Fame committee. What Moss did during the years he changed the game makes him one of the best players in history, and the best players deserve to be in the Hall.

He'll go down as one of the NFL's most polarizing figures of all time. One who made comments such as, "I play when I want to play," called himself "the greatest" and was the subject of a host of antics that will follow his name like a punch line for the rest of his days.

But none of that made him a better or worse football player. That notion is backed by the actions of these voters, who made the right call with Moss and the two other players who got in on their first ballot (Lewis and Brian Urlacher). The voters picked the best five modern-era players and didn't get caught up on years of eligibility or making sure they evened things out with position groups.

They put the best players in. Plain and simple.

This class is not only revolutionary, this might be the best class ever.

And it includes a receiver who coined some of the best phrases. He riffed his most popular one -- "straight cash, homie" -- after receiving the news Saturday:

"Straight Canton, homie."