It was on January 8, 2005 that Jerry Rice played his final game as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. What an incredible ending to a remarkable career in Seattle that felt like days but actually lasted for weeks. After a short stint in San Francisco with the 49ers and a pit stop in Oakland, Rice's career really started with the Seahawks and with training camp still a little bit out from this moment, it felt like a good time to look back at the career of one of Seattle's best.
1,549 catches, 22,895 yards, 197 receiving touchdowns. He led the NFL in receiving yards six times, receiving touchdowns six times, won three Super Bowls, made the All-Pro team 12 times, and holds over 100 records.
Here's to you, Jerry. A "hometown hero" for the Seahawks if I ever saw one.
- Rice's career receiving yardage record is considered the most untouchable in the sport by some. He has almost 7,000 more yards than second place Terrell Owens, and the closest active players are A Johnson (7,795 yards shy and a 35-year-old free agent), Steve Smith (37 and almost 9,000 yards shy), and Fitzgerald ("Only" 32, he's barely more than halfway to Rice's record.) The record is so unattainable-looking, that the players with the best shot at it are guys like Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham, Jr., maybe. Guys young enough that "anything could happen." If Brown played until he was 42, for example, he'd need to average 1,053 yards over the next 15 seasons to match Rice. If he played until he was 38, since almost no players (other than Rice) play as long as to 42, he'd need to average 1,436 yards per season. I mean, Brown has been one of the most phenomenal receivers in the NFL over the last five years and he'd still need to have Owens' entire career from here on out just to barely top Rice's yardage record.
- Rice has the most 1,000-yard seasons by a player in NFL history, with 14. He has as many 1000-yard seasons as Fitzgerald and A Johnson combined. He has four more 1000-yard seasons than second-place Randy Moss. He has twice as many 1000-yard seasons as Michael Irvin, Anquan Boldin, Lance Alworth, Calvin Johnson, and Chad Johnson. Players with four or fewer 1000-yard seasons include Tony Gonzalez, Andre Reed, Plaxico Burress, DeSean Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Charlie Joyner, Jason Witten, Dwayne Bowe, Greg Jennings, Darrell Jackson, Muhsim Muhammad, and many, many more.
- If Rice had retired at the age of 34, he would still hold the record for most career receiving yards. Instead, he played eight more seasons, including three seasons with at least 80 catches and 1,000 yards. Rice has three of the eight seasons in history of a player over 35 having 80 catches and 1,000 yards; No other player has more than one such season, including his teammate Tim Brown in 2001.
- If you removed the first five seasons of his career, when Rice twice led the NFL in receiving yards, he'd still be the all-time leading receiver.
- Rice has just under 5,000 more receiving yards after the age of 30 than any other player in NFL history. His 13,823 yards after 30 would rank as the 13th-most receiving yards of all-time overall. His 104 touchdowns scored after 30 would be tied with Antonio Gates for seventh-most all-time overall. He is the quickest player to 100 receiving touchdowns, having done so in 120 games. He was 30 when he caught his 100th touchdown. Consider that only nine players in history even caught 100 touchdowns in their career. Consider that the very accomplished player Anquan Boldin is turning 36, has played in 186 games, and has 74 touchdowns.
- Rice's 76 career games with at least 100 yards is the most all-time, 12 more than second place Moss. It's more than double the amount of 100-yard games as Gonzalez, Reed, Chad Johnson, Hines Ward, or Marques Colston. It's more than triple the number for John Stallworth, Jennings, Keyshawn, Andre Rison, or Donald Driver.
- There were 44 games in Rice's career in which he caught multiple touchdowns, which is eight more than any other player in history. Only four players even have more than half of that: Moss, TO, Cris Carter, and Marvin Harrison. It's more such games than Chad Johnson, Isaac Bruce, and Brandon Marshall combined.
- Jerry Rice's career playoff totals were 151 catches, 2,245 yards, and 22 touchdowns in 29 games. The only other player who even has more than 10 career playoff receiving touchdowns is J Stallworth, who has 12. In fact, Rice caught 11 playoff touchdowns just in a two-season span from 1988 to 1989. Rice is the only player in history who even has 100 playoff receptions.
- From 1986 to 1996, the only season that Rice didn't make the All-Pro team was in 1991; He led the NFL in touchdown catches that year with 14.
- From the time he entered the NFL in 1985 all the way to '96, Rice had over 4,000 more receiving yards than any other player, almost 300 more catches than any other player, and had more touchdown catches (154) than the next two players (Reed, Carter) combined.
- Steve Largent retired in 1989 as the NFL's all-time leading receiver, but was surpassed by Rice in 1994 when he was still only 32.
- Consider that Calvin Johnson just retired at 30 with an insanely successful career, playing in a much pass-happier league, in a more pass-friendly offense, and had 83 touchdowns in nine seasons. Rice had 118 touchdowns in his first nine seasons.
- Rice caught 22 touchdowns in 1987. He missed four games that season.
- He also rushed for 10 touchdowns in his career.
- Rice holds the record for consecutive games with a catch at 274 straight, 63 games longer than second-place Gonzalez. Fitzgerald has an active streak of 179, meaning he only needs 95 more in a row (or almost six seasons worth) to catch him. Rice's streak spanned three decades and lasted nearly 20 years. Include playoffs? No problem. Then the streak increases to 302.
- He also holds the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown reception at 13. Rice caught 22 touchdowns in those 13 games from December 1986 to December 1987. He also caught a touchdown in eight straight games in 1989.
There will always be criticisms of Rice, as there will be of any of our greatest athletes; he admitted to using stickum, a banned substance, he played with Joe Montana and Steve Young for the vast majority of his career, he was playing in offensive schemes that were far more brilliant than opposing defenses were ready for in that era. But Rice still had to be a player better than any that had ever come before him in order for all of that to work. Plenty of others came along at the same time and since who also had an opportunity to be better than their peers, but Rice wasn't just better, he was practically twice as better.
He's as great as any player I've ever seen in my lifetime, and I'm sure no Seahawks have forgotten his contributions to the franchise, am I right?