By Simon Evans
NEW ORLEANS, Jan 29 (Reuters) - San Francisco 49er Randy Moss boldly declared himself on Tuesday as the greatest wide receiver to play the game, a statement that will raise many eyebrows, including among his team's fans.
Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, a three-time Super Bowl champion with the 49ers and the National Football League's all-time leader in receptions, touchdown receptions and yards, is widely viewed as the greatest to play the position.
But Moss, who is hoping for his first Super Bowl triumph in Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens, believes the numbers do not tell the whole story.
"I don't really live on numbers, I live on impact, what you are able to do out on the field. I really do think that I am the greatest receiver to ever play this game," he told reporters at Super Bowl media day in the Superdome, site of Sunday's game.
"Now that I am older I do think I am the greatest receiver to ever do it. I don't think numbers stand because this year has been a down year for me statistically."
Moss, who retired for a year after the 2010 season, enjoyed his best campaign with the New England Patriots in 2007, when he caught 98 passes for 1,493 yards and a single-season record 23 touchdowns.
The 35-year-old Moss, who had brief and disappointing spells with the Minnesota and Tennessee after leaving New England, came out of retirement this season and played a limited but highly-praised role on the 49ers offense as they secured the NFC title.
"For me, taking a year off and being able to come back and be in the Super Bowl one year later is just a dream, I really didn't expect this," said Moss, who had 28 receptions for 434 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season.
Moss, who has 982 receptions, 156 touchdown receptions and 15,292 yards in his career, signed a one-year deal with San Francisco and coach Jim Harbaugh has expressed a desire to have him back next year.
Asked whether he plans to return for another season Moss said: "I have thought about it, I do want to play another year," but was non-committal about whether it would be with the 49ers.
"I don't know about that. Next question."
Rice finished his 20-season career with 1,549 receptions, 197 touchdown receptions and 22,895 yards. (Editing by Frank Pingue)