As he watched Aaron Rodgers put on a spectacular performance on “Monday Night Football” against the Kansas City Chiefs, announcer Jon Gruden couldn’t help but reminisce about what could have been.
Gruden was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2005 when the team passed on Rodgers with the No. 5 overall pick in the draft. Instead, the Bucs took Cadillac Williams, who later became Rookie of the Year but had his career derailed by injury.
Even though the Bucs took Cadillac, Gruden still worked out Rodgers before the draft. During Monday’s game, he shared the story of how he brought Jerry Rice to catch passes from Rodgers during the workout to see how the former Cal QB would handle it.
“I brought Jerry Rice with me. I brought Jerry Rice and I said, ‘Hey Aaron, you tell Rice what routes to run.’ I wanted to put some pressure on Aaron Rodgers and see how he reacted,” Gruden recalled. “I took Cadillac Williams. He was the Rookie of the Year, but just think what could have happened if you had this Aaron Rodgers. No disrespect to Cadillac Williams.
“That was quite a day. We went out there and Jerry Rice walked down the steps and Aaron Rodgers said, ‘Who’s that guy walking down the steps?’ I said, ‘that’s the receiver you’re going to throw to today.’ He grabbed me and said, ‘holy cow, that’s Jerry Rice!’ I go, ‘Yeah, tell him what routes to run.'”
Rodgers couldn’t have been too impressive considering Gruden passed him up as he slipped to No. 24 overall, but that’s an awesome story. Imagine you’re going to work out for a team and they bring you the best receiver in the history of the game to throw to. No pressure.
Rodgers actually talked about the workout back in 2011. He said Gruden called him before the draft and really made it seem like the Bucs were going to take him, but then they went in a different direction.
“I don’t fault them for taking Cadillac,” Rodgers told The Tampa Bay Times in 2011. “He had an incredible college career and a great rookie season. He was slowed down by some injuries.
“But I don’t blame them at all or don’t hold any animosity toward Jon and Bruce or the organization. Everything kind of happens for a reason. Looking back on when they came out and visited me in Berkeley, that was one of my top moments in my sports career, being able to throw to Jerry Rice.”
Before the draft in ’05, Rodgers said he would “love to play” for Gruden.
“This is surreal to me,” Rodgers said. “I remember watching the Oakland Raiders with Jerry, Jon Gruden and Rich Gannon. I remember thinking, ‘Man, I’d love to play for Jon Gruden.'”
Sorry to add insult to injury, Bucs fans. Gruden already admitted his error, but consider that the team rolled with Brian Griese and Chris Simms at quarterback instead of picking Rodgers. That’s where you see just how bad the pick was.
That was Gruden’s downfall. After he took middling QB Rich Gannon and turned him into the league MVP, he thought he could do the same with any mediocre QB thereafter. He was wrong, and never having a franchise quarterback in Tampa Bay is what finally got him fired. But as we’re seeing, it seems like he still has questionable taste in quarterbacks.
Earlier this year, Jerry Rice admitted to using stickum during his Hall of Fame career. On Wednesday, he had little interest in re-visiting the topic.
During an interview with NBC Sports Radio, Rice was asked about his use of the substance that was banned by the NFL in 1981. He was more interested in speaking on his work ethic.
“You know the thing is, the way I worked and my work ethic and stuff like that it really speaks for itself,” Rice said via ProFootballTalk. “I’m not even going to address that anymore. When people think about me they think about the time I put in on the field.”
Rice’s work ethic is certainly something he will remembered for. His workout regimens are legendary and helped him play into his early 40s. That said, Rice didn’t answer the question about a subject he freely discussed a few months ago.
While Rice certainly wasn’t the only one to use stickum, he is generally considered the greatest wide receiver of all-time and is on the shortlist of greatest football players ever. When he admits to using an illegal substance (then blasts the Patriots for cheating) it can’t be surprising Rice would be asked about his cheating. Rice declined to speak on it this time, but it surely won’t be the last time it comes up. How long will Rice avoid the subject the way he evaded defensive backs during his playing days?
Is cheating in the NFL only an issue when the Patriots are caught doing it? Hypocritical comments from Jerry Rice indicate there could be a double-standard when the Patriots are involved in a controversy.
Rice, who is considered the greatest wide receiver of all time and possibly the greatest football player of all time, recently admitted to cheating by using illegal stickum.
Rice appeared in a video published Jan. 17 on ESPN about “The Evolution of Gloves” in football. In one clip shown in the video, Rice says he used stickum.
“I know this might be a little illegal, guys, but you put a little spray, a little stickum on them, to make sure that texture is a little sticky,” Rice said with a laugh about how he used the substance when playing.
Stickum was banned by the NFL in 1981.
Three days after the video was published on ESPN, Rice tweeted this about the “Deflategate” controversy:
Rice also said this in an interview with Jim Rome.
“I’m going to be point blank, I feel like it’s cheating,” Rice told Rome on January 22 regarding the controversy. “Because you have an edge up on your opponent and its unfortunate that it happened. I’m not saying the outcome of the game would have been different or anything like that because they got beat 45-7, but they still had an edge.”
So what makes (allegedly intentionally) deflating footballs to gain an edge when it comes to gripping the ball any different from applying illegal stickum to also gain an edge with gripping the ball? The two situations sound pretty similar, and the difference is the Patriots deny doing it intentionally, while Rice admitted to cheating. His comments are just as hypocritical as this guy’s, because his team was caught using steroids, which is worse than potentially intentionally deflating footballs.
H/T Pro Football Talk
NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice played in an era where cornerbacks could grab, shove and disrupt without being penalized. That didn’t stop him from setting NFL records for most receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions in a career. What if he played now?
Earlier this week, Rice was asked if there are any cornerbacks who play today that could put up a fight against him on the field.
“Richard Sherman, Revis Island, Patrick Peterson — they can’t handle me, though,” Rice told Bleacher Report on Wednesday. “They don’t have a chance.
“I really respect those guys and their talent, but my job is to be elusive off the line of scrimmage. I was always good against bump and run and being able to double-move, triple-move, get off the line of scrimmage. You don’t see a lot of that happening today, with guys being able to get a free release on the line of scrimmage.”
Rice is probably the best receiver to ever play the game. That said, it’s nearly impossible to compare players from different generations. Guys like Sherman and Revis do are able to shut down receivers even with today’s emphasis on illegal contact and pass interference, so it stands to reason that they would have been even better in Rice’s generation.
Does that mean they could have shut down Rice? Probably not. No one really could. He was just that good.
The San Francisco 49ers will find themselves under more fire than most teams this season every time they lose a game. That’s because there have been multiple reports of unrest in their locker room, with several players supposedly not getting along with head coach Jim Harbaugh.
On Tuesday, Niners legend Jerry Rice confirmed what many already suspect.
“I have heard some complaints from some players that he likes to try to coach with the collegiate mentality, and that’s just not going to work in the NFL,” Rice told Newsday’s Bob Glauber.
Last month, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported with confidence that Harbaugh will not be back in San Francisco next season. That was consistent with what Deion Sanders had already said about the 49ers players wanting Harbaugh out.
“Who knows what’s going to happen with Jim Harbaugh?” Rice said. “[Next year] is up for grabs. I don’t know if he wants to try to go to be a college coach or go for the big payday [in the NFL]. I think the most important thing for Jim Harbaugh to do right now is to turn this around and make it a positive and get that team believing in themselves again.”
We don’t know if it was Harbaugh’s decision to call a quarterback sneak with 10 seconds remaining against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, but it was a questionable one. The Niners are now 4-4 with tough games remaining against the New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks (twice), San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals. If Harbaugh’s team misses the playoffs, the decision to fire him will probably be an easy one.
H/T Around the League
There 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
Randy Moss made waves during the week leading up to the Super Bowl when he confidently proclaimed himself to be the greatest receiver to ever play in the NFL. Jerry Rice was not shy in expressing how strongly he disagrees with Moss, and he pointed to statistics and championship rings to argue that he, not Moss, is the best ever.
Naturally, Rice’s former quarterback also believes Moss is mistaken. During an appearance on PFT Live on Tuesday, Joe Montana talked about the differences between Moss and Rice.
“I just think that he can’t do all the things that Jerry could do,” Montana said. “Randy will get behind you and he’s pretty good at going up and down the field. But going across the middle and catching little 10-yard crosses and 5-yard shallow crosses and turning them into a big play by making people miss, that’s not going to happen. He may outrun you, but he’s not going to make you miss.
“He’s a great receiver, but he’s not Jerry Rice.”
One of the arguments Moss supporters will make is that Rice played with tremendous quarterbacks. Moss, on the other hand, bounced around throughout his career and played with some signal-callers who were average at best, with the exception of Tom Brady for more than three seasons and Brett Favre for a handful of games.
Moss may be the most physically-gifted receiver to ever play, but no one ever questioned Rice’s effort or work ethic. Whether you agree or not, the comments that Bill Romanowski made about Moss on Sunday would never have been made about Rice during his career. Had Randy given 100% effort throughout his 14-year career and continued his career the way it started, he would have certainly had a chance to be the best. Rice simply did it more consistently and for a longer time period.
Randy Moss has said hardly anything to this point in his first season with the San Francisco 49ers, but he may have tossed out the quote of the week at Super Bowl media day on Tuesday. While answering questions from writers and reporters on Monday, Moss labeled himself the greatest receiver of all time.
“I don’t live off numbers,” Moss said when asked about how much of a roller coaster his career has been, via Boston.com. “I live off impact. So I really do think that I’m the greatest receiver to play this game.”
Jerry Rice was quick to disagree with Moss and asked that their numbers be compared. Of course, ESPN obliged:
The Oakland Raiders were crushed 48-21 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego nearly 10 years ago. The game was one of the most lopsided in Super Bowl history, and now, almost 10 years later, accusations are surfacing that Bill Callahan may have thrown the big game.
The accusations first came from 9-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Tim Brown. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice agreed with Brown, while other former Raiders disagree.
We’ll start with the comments made by Brown over the weekend on SiriusXM NFL radio, as shared by Pro Football Talk.
“We get our game plan for victory on Monday, and the game plan says we’re gonna run the ball,” Brown said Saturday. “We averaged 340 [pounds] on the offensive line, they averaged 280 [on the defensive line]. We’re all happy with that, everybody is excited. [We] tell Charlie Garner, ‘Look, you’re not gonna get too many carries, but at the end of the day we’re gonna get a victory. Tyrone Wheatley, Zack Crockett, let’s get ready to blow this thing up.’”
According to Brown, Callahan then inexplicably changed the entire gameplan on Friday, two days before the big game. They went from planning a run-heavy attack to deciding to throw it 60 times. Brown called into question Callahan’s relationship with Jon Gruden when discussing the situation. Gruden was the coach of the Raiders from 1998-2001, so he was facing his former team in the Super Bowl in his first season with his new team.
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.