Will any of Jerry Rice’s major records be broken?

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Jerry Rice retired as not only the greatest receiver of all time but also the greatest player of all time. While Tom Brady may have caught up with Rice as to the latter, there’s still no question as to the former.

Cementing Rice’s brilliance are three major records that have not remotely been challenged in the 16 years since he retired: 1,549 catches, 22,895 receiving yards, 197 receiving touchdowns.

Friday’s PFT Live included a draft of records that are within reasonable reach. One of Rice’s currently is coming close to being toppled. One could potentially fall, in time. The other seems to be safe for years to come.

With 1,378 catches, Larry Fitzgerald is only 171 behind Rice. If Fitzgerald plays three more years, he’ll likely break the record. If he plays only two more years, he’ll need to average 85.5 per season.

In 2019, Fitzgerald had 75 catches. But just two years earlier, he had 109. And with Kyler Murray entering his second second and newcomer DeAndre Hopkins attracting plenty of attention, Fitzgerald could have another couple of solid years of production left.

Rice’s receiving yardage record will take a lot more work. But Julio Jones, entering his 10th season, already has 12,125. He needs another 10,770, and at his current average of 1,347 per year, Jones needs another eight seasons to catch Rice. And he’d be 38 during that eighth season.

But Rice played until he was 42, which is one of the reasons why his final numbers were so far off the charts. Jones, health and desire permitting, could catch him.

Jones also has something else working in his favor: The regular season will be expanded in 2021 to 17 games. (Of course, Jones may end up playing zero games in 2020, along with everyone else.)

A 17-game season may not make much of a difference when it comes to someone catching 197 touchdown passes. Rice has held for eight years a 47-TD lead over Randy Moss, and Fitzgerald trails Rice by 77.  Jones, despite his yardage production, needs 140 touchdown catches to tie Rice. (At only 57 touchdown catches, Jones is behind players like Hugh Taylor (1947-54), Mark Duper, Drew Hill, Billy Howton (1952-63), and Jimmy Orr (1958-70).)

No active player has a realistic shot at catching Rice’s touchdown-catch record. Hopkins has only 54 in seven seasons. (He’d need to play 26 years to catch Rice, at that rate.) Odell Beckham and Mike Evans each have 48 in six years. (They’d need to play 25 years, at that rate.)

So while Rice could likely see someone end up with more catches and maybe more yards, his receiving touchdowns mark will likely last for a very, very long time.

For more on records that are within reasonable reach — including a laundry list of interesting and obscure records that are in some degree of danger — check out the video from Friday’s show.

42 responses to “Will any of Jerry Rice’s major records be broken?

  1. Players make so much money nowadays that they can retire early and be set for life, so unless they really like the game and can stand the pain of injuries, they are not likely to play a lot of seasons. Top players get so much money that they are often cut by their teams when their production falls off just a little, and then they may price themselves out of the market. Rice’s teammate John Taylor retired relatively early, and he has been working as a interstate truck driver. Another teammate of Rice, a linebacker (forgot his name) retired and became a roofer. Those days are gone. Not even the CoronaVirus pandemic can change it drastically enough for players to be paid as little as Rice and others were paid. Long careers are a thing of the past.

  2. The fact that one person did it means it can be done again. It will just take someone to play for a very long time at a consistently high level with a consistently high level QB. Rice played with Montana, Young and Gannon, who were all MVP QB’s. The only receiver playing now that probably has a chance is Michael Thomas if the QB who replaces Brees is good enough.

  3. Doubt it, Rice was a true professional that always worked, these new diva type of WR’s like Odell and AB just want to work hard to get paid. One they get paid they act like fool.

  4. The only official GOAT in any sport is Cy Young. 511 (plus 2 WS wins) will NEVER be broken. All other records can be broken with bigger, stronger, better trained athletes who happen to be playing more games sometimes soon. Fitz gets 3 extra games if he plays 3 more years. Baseball has given way to the 7 inning pitcher with 4 days rest, or more.

    Numbers lie. Is there ANYONE on the planet who thinks Don Sutton is better than Ron Guidry? One has Sandy Koufax talent and similar record. Sutton was a real good ‘#2. Like comparing Ramon Martinez to his brother Pedro. A true #2 vs a true #1. Does anyone think Frank Gore is better than Gayle Sayers (much better example).

    So yes, Rice will lose records. Already some in sight. His records are based on longevity AND talent. That’s why he’s special. GOAT? Yup. But that could change.

  5. Of course they’ll be broken. All records eventually get broken. If Larry Fitz plays 3 more years, he’ll become the greatest WR of all time.

  6. When he retired I thought nobody would ever break them. Even getting close to those records would take a herculean effort. It seems Fitzgerald could break his record for most catches. I still think Rice is the greatest WR ever so breaking one of his records is a HoF-worthy achievement.

    I was living in Cincinnati during both of their Super Bowls so I don’t particularly like the 49ers. Give the Bengals this at least….they were the only team during that stretch with Joe Montana that even managed to make the game competitive and it took a last-minute drive in both games for the Niners to win.

    Still, what Rice did was just phenomenal. Those teams were loaded with offensive talent…on defense too. All this from a guy from a small college most people had never heard of before that–Mississippi Valley State. I think Rice’s defining moment was the playoff game against the Giants in which he fumbled the ball after turning a short pass into a long gain. He was on his way to a touchdown and that would have given SF a lead. Instead, they went into halftime trailing 28-3 and were blown out 49-3. Rice had three catches. That could have broken some players. It didn’t break Jerry Rice.

    If Fitz does break his catch record I think Rice would be happy for him.

  7. I remember what a big deal it was when Steve Largent hit 100 TDs and Rice almost doubled that. Special mention to Don Hutson, who also had over 100 playing in the 30’s and 40’s. Rice is the James Bond of WRs – nobody does it better…

  8. It is not just because Rice played in to his 40s. He played in to his 40s and STILL had over 1200 yards receiving and over 90 catches. He was almost freaking 41 when he did that. He prime years, which was with Montana – Montana never threw for over 4K yards. Unlike Brady, Jerry Rice also had to maintain elite athleticism in to his 40s which is infinitely more difficult. Guys like Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, Fitz – theyre great no question. But Jerry Rice is unquestionably the greatest receiver as well as the greatest football player that ever lived and his overall numbers back that up. For all the love Lebron James gets at being “efficient,” Michael Jordan’s career PER is STILL higher, from an era that was a mid-range jumper league and allowed for hand checking. This is JUST like that with the Jerry Rice. It’s him and everybody else

  9. Got me sucked in with this article. Receiving yards and TD’s will be very difficult to top. Receptions, my opinion, is the record that would fall first. Fitzgerald is close. If there is a player I wouldn’t mind taking a record from Rice, it would be Larry. Plays the game tough and holds himself respectively off the field

  10. Absolutely, given the offensive explosion and extended season we will see receivers who put up 150 catches, 2000 yards, and 20 TD’s annually. Teams will score 30-40 points per game and a good quarterback will throw for 50 TD’s a year, with the record being raised to 70 or so.

    That takes nothing away from Rice though considering he played a completely different sport from the game being played today (and will be played in future years).

  11. Relatively Rice dominated his position. Only Terrell Owens came close among the playes that I personally watched. Amongst QB’s Marino is still the best that I saw play. He went almost 700 attempts without a sack and handed the 1985 Bears their only loss tacking up 38 points on them. To put that in perspective the Bears allowed less than 200 points for that entire season. His release was so quick that DL’s couldn’t get near him even on 3 step drops. One had to see him play in person in order to appreciate his skills. He was amazing. If he ever had the supporting cast Brady did he would have won multiple SB’s also. If he played under today’s rules I have no doubt that he would have had a 7000 yard season. To have had a 5000 yard season then speaks volumes due to the fact that it took so long for it to be repeated.

  12. Greatest football player is Jim Brown, pull up the highlights & look at what he actually did compared to Rice. Moss is the greatest wr to ever play, look at his highlights compared to Rice’s.

  13. As long as they put an asterisk next to every single one of his records I don’t care if they’re broken or not. The man used a banned substance his entire career, and he admitted he did after he retired. That makes him an admitted cheater and the record should be noted as such…End of Story and NO you can’t have it both ways he cheated that’s it

  14. I might be in the minority but Jerry Rice flat out admitted to using Stick-Um. Therefore, he cheated. The TB12 haters always throw out Brady cheated (he didnt) so its tainted, the same applies to Rice. I watched the NFL since 1979. The best overall WR I ever seen is Larry Fitzgerald by a landslide and look at the QBs he had. Rice had Montana & Young. Fitz had 100 catches with horrible QBs and still dominated!

  15. Personally, I do not see the touchdown record falling. Ever. Think about how hard it would be to get 198 TDs. That’s 13 a year for 15 years. Only two wide receivers had even double-digit TDs last year (Kupp and Golladay, 21 combined).

    Jerry’s 197 career receiving touchdowns is 32 more than Troy Aikman PASSED for in his career. The Cleveland Browns quarterbacks have combined for 182 passing touchdowns in the entire decade of the 2010’s! The passing era!

    Perspective makes Jerry Rice’s records even more incredible.

  16. Eclipsing Jerry Rice is more than a tall order! The only active player that has the talent, discipline, and physical attributes is Mike Thomas but it’s contingent on another future Hall of Fame QB., NOT named Drew Brees. That’s where you have to put the brakes on breaking Jerry’s records!

    At this point, the answer is no! Until we see Mike Thomas adopt that type of chemistry from a Young to Rice, it’s strictly premature and locker room talk.

    Even if Thomas found that second quarterback, you have to consider how the rules have changed from Jerry’s era, in favor of pass happy offenses that protect the QB.

  17. Stick-um? Anyone who has used the stuff knows that it quickly picks up dust and dirt-and hair and anything-and then the natural grip you had before is diminished and your hands become slick. Besides, the gloves used now days actually help you catch better than anything Rice had.

    Rice compiled his records in hard mode.

  18. backintheday99 says:
    April 4, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    The only official GOAT in any sport is Cy Young. 511 (plus 2 WS wins)


    If you are gonna talk about baseball, at least talk about the right guy and that would be Babe Ruth. Look in any stat book and he’s the true GOAT…if you are talking per game basis and not roided up.

  19. Yong played in the deadball era. Need I explain? He retired when he got so fat he could no longer field his position.

  20. The greatest player of all time can certainly be debated. But you definitely cant just give it to Rice hands down.

  21. Mike Hoover says:
    April 4, 2020 at 5:42 pm
    Rice is not the greatest player of all time, that’s Jim Brown.

    Brown was decidedly good but he’s more like the biggest blowhard of all time.

  22. Diva/insanity mentality will make sure those records wont be broken for quite some time.

  23. Rice may lose some records at some point but he is clearly the greatest WR to ever play the game. He was so good for so long and with multiple QB’s in 2 different systems.

  24. These records ae still held…
    Most seasons led league, scoring: 5*
    Most consecutive seasons led league, scoring: 5*
    Most points scored in a quarter: 29*
    Most touchdowns scored in a quarter: 4*
    Most touchdown receptions in a quarter: 4*
    Most points scored in a quarter: 29*[11]
    Most seasons led league, touchdowns: 8*
    Most consecutive seasons led league, touchdowns: 4*
    Most seasons led league, receiving touchdowns: 9*
    Most consecutive seasons led league, receiving touchdowns: 5*
    Most seasons led league, receptions: 8*
    Most consecutive seasons led league, receptions: 5*
    Most seasons led league, receiving yards: 7*
    Most consecutive seasons led league, receiving yards: 4*

    By Don Hutson…WR

  25. Some of you guys throwing Michael Thomas in there need to be tested for drugs. Can I see him JUST ONE TIME take a quick slant 80 yards to the house? He won’t. You know why? Because he isn’t capable. Just stick to those shallow crossing routes the Saints are so good at drawing up for him for those 7-14 yards gains and stay in your lane. He should never be in the same sentence as Jerry rice

  26. “I might be in the minority but Jerry Rice flat out admitted to using Stick-Um. ”

    This is always such a weak argument. The high-tech gloves that receivers use nowadays confer a bigger advantage than Stickum ever did. Rice played in an era where CB’s could still assault you down the field and I saw the guy absolutely work over some of the greatest defensive backs of all time. His ability to get himself open against anyone and make key plays in the biggest moments is what elevates him over all the other receivers in my view. His regular season records are very impressive, but go look at his career playoff and SB numbers, he was at his very best in the biggest moments.

    In 29 total playoff games, Rice had 2,200 yards receiving and 22 TDs.

  27. Fitz is great and one of my favorites. However Jerry was on an entirely different level.

    Larry is more a possession receiver while Jerry was a home run hitter.

    In 1987 Rice had 22 receiving TD’s from only 65 receptions!

    No one will ever come close to that ratio.

    My top 5 all time (modern) Rice, Moss, Larry, TO, Julio

  28. Jerry’s records will be broken…Emmitt Smith’s wont…Emmitt > Jerry…

  29. If only Fitz hadn’t had such strings of awful QB’s. Hopefully Murray gets him those catches, and maybe a ring after three more years of a cheap QB contract allowing the Cardinals to build a defense to go along with that offense.

  30. Watch some tape Young Guns…… Joe Montana got his spine dislocated against the Giants…. Steve Young got knocked out (literally & figuratively) on the field. It was a different era of physical/defensive contact that Jerry Rice had to play against in his position. During the Super Bowl against the Chargers, he cracked his collar bone and couldn’t even strap on his own helmet but, he still finished the game!(10 rec.for 149 yds, 3Tds)
    Today’s offensive passing & protection rules and extended seasons will allow for his records to eventually be broken. Athletes also have more resources for physical and mental development/training than Jerry ever did. Yet, whenever that day arrives that his records should be broken, Jerry Rice will be the most humble & enthusiastic person to congratulate that future athlete.

  31. fantastic semi-possession WR to be sure, the best stats but hardly the greatest of all time save arguably at his position;

    sorry to burst the bubble of all his worshippers, but there are certain fellows, one by the name of Sanders and another by the name of Montana to name two, who come to mind…

  32. Fitzgerald isn’t even the best of his era;

    that title goes to one Mr. Calvin Johnson;

  33. Maybe Rice’s “major records” will last as long as Don Hutson’s? Probably not. And Hutson only played 11 years.

    Maybe someone will break Hutson’s major records 80, 100 or 200 years later but I doubt it. Those records would be:

    Years leading the league in receptions: 8x in 11 seasons. (twice he was 2nd and as a rookie 6th)
    Years leading the league in receiving yards: 7x (3x he was 2nd and 1x he was 3rd)
    Years leading the league in receiving TDs: 9x (2x he was 2nd)
    8x led the entire league in TDs scored.
    5 straight years led the league in total points scored.

    Let me know when Jerry Rice breaks these records.

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