It’s been more than a week now since Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice publicly apologized for using stickum during his playing career. He explained the violation of the rules by saying everyone did it.
The stunning admission generated an even more stunning lack of coverage and criticism (perhaps because Rice never played for the Patriots). Since then, no receivers from the post-stickum era have supported Rice’s contention. Two have strongly disputed it: Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter and Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin.
Both have denied the notion that everyone used stickum passionately. Carter insisted he only used God-given talent to catch footballs, and Irvin said, “Leave me alone with that mess. Get off my Twitter with that.”
We’ve tried to get Rice and Carter on PFT Live to elaborate on the situation. Rice hasn’t been available; Carter can’t do it because of his exclusive contract with ESPN. We’re also looking for more comments from receivers who played in Rice’s era; if you’ve seen anything on Twitter or elsewhere regarding players admitting or denying using stickum, let us know.
It’s bizarre, to say the least, that folks who claim to be insulted by the alleged tampering with footballs by the Patriots aren’t bothered by other examples of cheating by players on other teams. It’s understandable that the league isn’t making a bigger deal of it. In lieu of exploring rabbit holes (and in turn exposing possibly widespread cheating to the world), the NFL seems to be far more content to wait for someone to be caught in the act and to hit them so hard that it scares other teams into not cheating in the specific way that someone has been caught in the act.
Meanwhile, cheating will continue in all sorts of other ways. There’s too much riding on the outcome of NFL games to expect that everyone will play fair, especially when it’s easy to justify bending or breaking rules by pointing out that others are doing the same thing.