Jerry Rice: #1 All-Time

23:38 Fri 12 Nov 2010. Updated: 01:00 13 Nov 2010
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Jerry Rice has been my favorite football player for a long time, and I’m happy to see that the NFL Network has put him in the top spot of their Top 100 all-time players.

Rice was elusive, precise, determined, resilient, and, perhaps above all else, hard-working. His work ethic and habits were legendary in a league full of extraordinary athletes, and he never seemed to ease up.

To understand just how good he was, consider not the numbers themselves, which may be meaningless to people who don’t follow the game quite closely, but rather the numbers expressed in terms of the how the second- and third-place players compare:

  • Career Receptions: 1549. Next-best: Marvin Harrison with 1102, then Cris Carter with 1101. Rice is 40% better than Harrison, who’s something like 0.1% better than Carter.
  • Career Receiving Yards: 22895. Next-best: Terrell Owens with 15721 (so far; Owens is still active), then Isaac Bruce with 15208. Rice is about 46% better than Owens, who is about 3% better than Bruce.
  • Career Receiving Touchdowns: 197. Next-best: Randy Moss (still active) with 153, followed by Terrell Owens with 151. Rice is about 29% better than Moss, who is about 1% better than Owens.

By way of comparison, Brett Favre’s passing yards total is about 16% better than Dan Marino’s, which is about 16% better than Peyton Manning’s.

That’s not enough? How about this: Rice is at the top of the list for career total all-purpose yards (23546), too, and the next nine players on that list were all running backs. Versatile running backs, sure, but even so. The next pure wide receiver on that list is at number 14—about 7000 yards behind Rice.

Or this? Rice is number 26 on the all-time points scored list, with 1256—but the first player on the list who’s not a kicker. The next non-kicker is 15 places lower, Emmitt Smith at 1052. Rice is also the all-time touchdown leader at 208, ahead of Emmitt Smith at 175.

The video at the NFL Top 100 site is worth watching; so is this YouTube highlights clip.

Still not convinced? Look, the guy was so ridiculously good that arguably you could split him in two and both halves could still make the Hall of Fame.

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