Big Blue Shoe's post on why did Terrell Owens sign faster than Marvin Harrison, started some arguments. The main two were variations of Marvin vs TO, which is better right now? and which has been better for their careers. The first is a prediction about the future so will be much more subjective. I'll focus on the one that is based on events that have already happened and been throughly recorded.
Both receivers entered the league the same year and have only a single games difference in games played, making totals (for once) a perfectly a appropriate way to compare players.
Marvin has been considerably more productive in total than Owens, with T.O. edges coming in TDs and a slight edge in per play value (which leaned the other way before the last two seasons). The biggest difference by far has been Marvin's hands vs T.O.'s. An extra 6% in catch% builds a 84 target difference into a 151 catch, 458 yard gap. Owens has played in only one less game than Marvin (and 9 of T.O.'s 19 games missed were by suspention) giving Owens a very similar number of oppertunities to get open and have the ball thrown to him.
Here it is year by year
- In Marvin Harrison's record setting 143 catch season, he caught a career high 70% of the passes thrown to him. That record is less like Larry Johnson's carries record (where he just kept getting attempts despite inefficiency) and more like Dickerson's yardage record (where a great player was extremely efficient over a massive workload).
- Owens had a higher catch % 4 of the pairs first 5 years in the league. Over the following 8 season Marvin had a higher catch% every year.
- Marvin has 3 seasons with more DYAR than Owen's career high.