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