Jerry Rice: Still Winning After Retirement
Cold, Hard Football Facts Receiving Threat
The shockingly fast decline and subsequent retirement (we think) of wide receiver Randy Moss offered more perspective on how amazing of a career Jerry Rice had, and how unlikely it is that his records will ever be broken.
Rice, chosen as the greatest player in NFL history for The Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players, set the standard for which all modern receivers are judged by.
The problem is he set the bar way too high, and everyone that has come along since pales in comparison.
Including Moss, of course, who Rice more or less said paled in comparison during some recent comments.
“It was hard for me to swallow because I was not as talented and I had to work harder. To see a guy with that much talent not give it 100 percent, it was almost like a little slap in the face. But Randy was Randy,” said Rice. He went on to add that Moss “could have been one of the greatest if he had worked just a little bit harder. I don’t think he wanted to give it 100 percent. You never knew what you were going to get with Randy. Sometimes you’d get the unbelievable guy, the amazing guy. Other times you’d get the guy that took a couple plays off.”
But Rice didn't, and the record books show it.
There are receivers that have come along to break some of his lesser receiving records. Moss caught 23 touchdowns in 2007, breaking Rice’s record of 22 in 1987, a strike-shortened year in which he only played 12 games (Moss had to play 16). Marvin Harrison caught a record 143 passes in 2002, and ties Rice as the only receivers to have four seasons with 100+ receptions. Rice's teammate Terrell Owens caught a then-record 20 receptions (on 22 targets) on "Jerry Rice Day" in 2000.
The career marks, though, 22,895 yards, 197 touchdowns and 1,549 catches, are all in a stratosphere all their own.
Moss, Harrison, and Owens had the best opportunities to break Rice’s career records, and in the end, they weren’t even close. The greatness of these three receivers, all Hall of Fame-worthy even if they raise some flags for character issues, should not be undermined. But because they all started their careers post-Rice, they are held to his standard, and they come up short.
How far short? Far.
|Distance from Rice||Catches||Yards||Rec. TD|
Even just using the bare minimum for each column, these are not numbers to scoff at. Just 91 players have ever had 447 catches, 6961 yards and 44 receiving touchdowns in their entire careers, and that's how many an old Terrell Owens would need to get to Rice.
THE GRANDEST OF OLD MENThat is where Rice really separated himself. He was the best receiver in the regular season, the best in the postseason, the best on Monday Night Football, and he was the best “old man” receiver the league has ever seen.
|Top 20 In Receiving Yards, Age 34+|
You can view a full list here
Rice was head and shoulders above anyone else at age 34+. Just the numbers he accumulated in that portion of his career alone (607/7772/51) would put him in high regard (just 42 players have done that in their entire career).
WHIPPERSNAPPERS NEED NOT APPLYSo, can anyone playing now catch him? How about two younger guys that are still playing: Andre Johnson (30) and Larry Fitzgerald (28)?
|Distance from Rice||Age||Rec||Yards||TD|
|Average season needed (11 yrs):||40||79.6||1248.3||13.4|
|Average season needed (13 yrs):||40||72.0||1130.1||10.2|
Good luck, guys.
Only Rice (14) and Moss (10) had at least ten seasons in their career with 1,000+ receiving yards. Given how rare it is for a player to have a 70/1100/10 season in his 30s (only done 33 times by 21 players), you would probably be making a safer bet on Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams (65/964/11 as a rookie) and Julio Jones (Atlanta’s rookie who has yet to play a down) breaking Rice’s records than you would on Johnson or Fitzgerald.
What will it take for someone to surpass Rice’s career receiving records? If they start playing 20-game regular seasons with teams averaging 800 pass attempts a year, then maybe you’ll find someone that could do it.
It is a testament to Rice’s work ethic, practice habits, durability, longevity, production, and determination to be the best receiver of all time that set him so far apart from the rest. Every time a superstar receiver retires from the game well short of Rice’s legendary marks, it’s just another reaffirmation of who the greatest of all time is.