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Jerry Rice: Calvin Johnson has ‘a lot of work to do’ to be considered best wide receiver of all time

Calvin JohnsonThere are very few people that would make an argument for anyone but Jerry Rice as the greatest wide receiver in NFL history. Rice performed at a high level for more than 20 seasons, which is unheard of in football. He holds NFL records for career receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895) and receiving touchdowns (197). Could Calvin Johnson eventually dethrone the San Francisco 49ers legend?

Johnson is in his seventh NFL season and is roughly one-third of the way to Rice’s records in most categories. That means he is technically on pace to challenge those marks, but playing 20-plus seasons is an amazing feat — let alone doing it at an effective level. Rice recently alluded to that.

“I think it’s great that they’re still talking about me after my career’s over. (Johnson) still has a ways to go,” Rice told USA Today Sports on Tuesday. “We’re just going to let this guy continue to develop, and if he should break the majority of my records or break all my records, I’ll be the first one to congratulate him. But I know the sacrifice that you have to put into it. It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work.”

It takes a little luck, too. Johnson has missed only four games in his career, so he has been able to remain relatively healthy. That being said, he has dealt with some injuries that result in stretches of ineffective play. Staying on the field when he’s in his mid-30s will be a challenge. However, Rice said he believes Megatron has become more than just a physical force.

“I think (Johnson) has gotten so much better route running, and he doesn’t just rely on his jumping ability anymore,” Rice said. “That’s why he’s called Megatron. He’s a hell of a lot (to handle) on that football field. Right now he’s had about (63) touchdowns and he’s going strong. I wish him the best. I know what type of work ethic he has. He’s a complete player.

“When you’re so dominant in college and you’re such a big body, you’re so physical and so unstoppable, you don’t focus on just the little things. Now, I think (Johnson) wants to be the complete player.”

Could Johnson be the most physically dominant receiver to ever play? I’d argue that he is, though I’d still be surprised to see him topple Rice’s records. Sustaining success for that long just doesn’t happen.

Helmet smack to Tha Cover 2

Tom Jackson: Dez Bryant threw fit because he realized he’s not as good as Calvin Johnson

Dez Bryant Jason GarrettThere has been a ton of analysis regarding Dez Bryant’s sideline outbursts on Sunday during the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions. Many of the Cowboys coaches and players defended Bryant, saying the behavior was just a manifestation of the receiver’s passion for the game. Others says it’s immaturity and that he needs to grow up.

Everyone with an opinion has weighed in. But one person whose explanation was different and made some sense to me was Tom Jackson’s.

Speaking on Monday Night Countdown on ESPN, Jackson said he felt Bryant threw a fit on Sunday because he was being upstaged by Calvin Johnson. Recall that in the week leading up to the game, Bryant praised Johnson for being the best at what he does, while also saying he can do what Megatron does.

[Related: Dez Bryant and Jason Witten fight on sidelines (GIF)]

“I believe I can do whatever he can do,” Bryant said on 103.3 FM ESPN in Dallas last week. “I think it’s just a pride thing. When it comes to football, just being on the field, it’s a mindset and having a mentality. I honestly believe when I’m there, I’ll be feeling like there’s nothing I can’t do. Whatever the coaches ask me to do, I’m going to do it.”

Jackson referred to those comments when he said Bryant got a rude awakening.

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Flipper Anderson’s son was stoked Calvin Johnson did not break his dad’s receiving record

Calvin JohnsonFormer NFL wide receiver Flipper Anderson holds what seems like one of the most untouchable records in football. Calvin Johnson almost made it fall during Sunday’s win over the Dallas Cowboys.

In 1989, Anderson caught 15 passes for an incredible 336 yards during a game with the Los Angeles Rams. Megatron fell just seven yards short of that mark against Dallas, hauling in 14 catches for 329 yards. It was one of the most amazing single-game performances you will ever see. Flipper’s son Dres Anderson was relieved that his old man’s 336-yard game is still second to none.

I don’t blame Dres for wanting his dad’s record to hold up. When you make your mark on a professional sport like that, it’s only human nature to want it to remain permanent. It’s when you get into saying stuff like Mercury Morris says that it becomes obnoxious and uncalled for.

H/T Sporting News

Calvin Johnson had a touchdown catch in between three Bengals

Calvin Johnson made a ridiculous 50-yard touchdown catch against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, going up between two defenders to make the grab, while a third defender came in at the last second. This was a thing of beauty.

Here’s another look at the amazing touchdown grab:

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Calvin Johnson on Chicago Bears: I can’t stand them

Calvin JohnsonThe Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions will meet on Sunday, and Calvin Johnson has made it clear how he feels about his opponent. Johnson straight up told reporters on Thursday that he “can’t stand” the Bears, which is probably how players should feel about division rivals.

“It’s easy to have a dislike for them,” Johnson said Thursday, via the Detroit Free Press. “It’s not hard at all.

“Can’t stand them, one, because they’re filling up the stadium a lot with a lot of Bears fans. So that’s one reason I can’t stand them.

“But we’re going to have a good showing this week. We’ve had two good practices this week. Guys are focused in and, like I say, we don’t like those guys. So it’s going to be a good little showdown.”

The game should be a good one. Chicago is 3-0 while Detroit is 2-1 and will have home field advantage. But why else would Johnson dislike the Bears aside from Chicago being a good team in their division? Maybe it also has to do with how well they have played him.

Last year, the Bears held Megatron to 106 yards in two games. Keep in mind that Johnson set an NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards last season. For his career, he only has four touchdown catches against the Bears in 11 games. He has 11 against the Green Bay Packers and seven against the Minnesota Vikings.

Chicago’s defense has been tough on him, which also explains his dislike of them.

Helmet smack to Pro Football Talk

Tyrann Mathieu: I could hold Calvin Johnson to five catches

Former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu has spent his time at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianpolis trying to prove to NFL teams that he still holds value, despite having not played in an actual game since 2011. When he did play, Mathieu had the best ball skills of any defensive back in the nation. However, there have always been questions about how his size would translate to the professional level.

Through all of his struggles off the field, Mathieu seems to have remained confident. On Tuesday, he talked about whether or not he could hang with the NFL’s best receivers.

“I feel like if I was to check somebody like a Calvin Johnson, he’ll make his plays, but I’m definitely going to get mine, too,” Mathieu told the NFL Network, via MLive.com. “He’s going to catch his five balls, but I’m going to get my two turnovers, so we’ll be even.”

Mathieu ran a 4.5 in the 40 and reportedly looked solid in drills, so the Combine was not a failure for him. He is only 5-foot-9, 186 pounds, so his expectations of how he would match-up against Megatron could be unrealistic. He’d be giving up an incredible amount of size, which is the type of situation that Johnson has feasted on since coming into the league. Mathieu also sent out a tweet as a follow-up:

What would you expect him to say? The artist formerly known as the Honey Badger has more to prove than most NFL prospects, so at the very least he needs to show teams he is still confident in his abilities. Nobody wants to hear Mathieu say he’d stand no chance against someone like Johnson, even if it may be true.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Jerry Rice doesn’t mind Calvin Johnson breaking his record

Jerry Rice is one of the best football players of all time and holds many career and single-season records. He has the most career receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and career touchdowns of any player in NFL history, but his single-season receiving yards record was broken on Saturday night.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson had 11 catches for 225 yards against the Atlanta Falcons to give him 1,892 yards on the season, which surpasses Rice’s record of 1,848 receiving yards achieved in 1995. Though Rice doesn’t like losing a record, he said prior to Johnson breaking his record that he wouldn’t mind Megatron break it.

“Well, you never want your record to be broken,” Rice admitted during a guest interview on ESPN Saturday, “but if anyone is going to do it, I would prefer Megatron to try and do it.”

Rice elaborated on his position.

“I believe records are meant to be broken,” he told Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico. “I’ll be the first one to congratulate this guy because I know what he stands for. He’s a hard worker. He got the major contract and he’s still hungry, and he wants to prove to everybody that he’s the best receiver to play the game.

“The thing that I really like is that he says ‘We have a chance to do something special.’ That right there told me that it’s not an individual thing, but a team concept.”

Rice also likes that Johnson has greater goals in mind.

“I think this guy is not only trying to break my record, but he’s trying to get to 2,000 yards. I tried to get to 2,000 yards and was not successful at it. I think he’s going to do it.

“I just sit back and I’m like a fan. He can run every route from the slant route to run by you with that 4.35 speed. He can outjump you and levitate his body and make those incredible catches. He has all the tools.

“This guy is really amazing. He’s a true talent, and that’s why they call him Megatron.”

Perhaps the best news of all for Rice is that Johnson is the one to break his mark, not another star wide receiver like Randy Moss, because we know Rice wouldn’t have enjoyed that.

Megatron has been among the best receivers in the NFL since beginning his career in Detroit, and he has separated himself as the top receiver in the game the past three seasons. He will be a worthy record holder, and hopefully he breaks many more records during his career.

Just a reminder: Cris Carter said last August that Johnson was not an elite wide receiver. What a dope.

In addition to setting the record for receiving yards in a season, Johnson set a record for his eighth straight 100-yard receiving game, tied a record with his 11th 100-yard receiving game of the season, and set a record with four straight games of at least 10 receptions.