Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald recently joined the 1,000-catch club, and at age 32 he may have a few hundred more catches left in him. But he doesn’t have 544 catches left in him.
Fitzgerald, currently at 1,005 catches, is 544 behind Jerry Rice’s all-time record of 1,549. And Fitzgerald says there’s no chance of breaking Rice’s record.
“I don’t think the record’s attainable,” Fitzgerald told Peter King of TheMMQB.com.
There were two amazing things about Jerry Rice’s career. One was how great he was at his peak, when he was by far the greatest receiver in the league. Rice once caught 22 touchdown passes in a season when no one else even caught 12. He once caught 100 passes in a season when no one else even caught 85. He once had 1,502 receiving yards when no one else even had 1,300.
But the other amazing thing about Rice’s career was how long he remained an effective player. Most wide receivers — even great receivers — begin to decline by age 30 and are totally done by their mid-30s. Rice was still the best receiver in the NFL in his mid-30s and had a 1,211-yard season in Oakland at age 40. He was 42 — 10 years older than Fitzgerald is now — when he finally retired.
And that’s why it would be so hard for Fitzgerald to catch Rice. The combination of a great peak to his career and superhuman longevity is just not a combination we’re likely to see again any time soon.
Some day, Rice’s records may be broken. Passing offenses are putting up bigger numbers all the time, and a young receiver like Odell Beckham, or maybe some young receiver who’s not even in the NFL yet, may play 15 or more seasons in the pass-happy NFL and top Rice’s stats. But Fitzgerald recognizes that it won’t happen any time soon.