55-year-old Jerry Rice thinks he could still play

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44-year-old Terrell Owens isn’t the only former 49ers receiver who thinks he could still play in the NFL well past retirement age. 55-year-old Jerry Rice thinks he could still play, too.

“I still feel like today, if I wanted to come back to football and play football, I could do it, at the age of 55,” Rice told ESPN The Magazine in conjunction with his participation in the annual “Body Issue.” I’m one of those guys that I still believe that if I wanted to, I could come back, catch over 80 balls and really be productive on the field. . . . I think I’m still explosive, and I think I still can beat up on some defenses.”

Plenty of former players likely think they can still perform at a high level, regardless of age. The confidence that allows a player to thrive in sports often strays into the territory of delusion, and if Rice thinks he could match physical skills with today’s NFL players, he’s definitely delusional.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that he was, without question, the best receiver in NFL history — and quite possibly the best player who ever played, regardless of position.