Take a bow, Mr. Rice Click here to find out more!
Adam Schefter By Adam Schefter
(Sept. 5, 2005) -- Sometimes statistics are more powerful than the plays from which they are derived. Sometimes they speak to the talent and, more significantly, the will of a man.
Maybe the only thing stronger than his will are the numbers he posted. They are off the charts, the equivalent of hitting 1,000 career home runs in baseball. They are worthy of induction into Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame today.
Not five years from now -- today.
Rice's career can be divided into two acts, the first of which -- with Super Bowl titles, Pro Bowls and receiving records -- is as storied as the Great Gatsby.
But the second act reveals the will, and the greatness, of the player.
Jerry Rice didn't want to spend Sundays sitting on the sidelines.
The curtain on his great first act came down in September 1997, the season's first game, when the then 34-year-old Rice blew out his knee.
Many folks around football wondered if Rice could return. Those who thought he could, doubted he would be anywhere close to the player he was.
Well, Rice has made those people look as wise as all the teams that bypassed him in the 1985 draft before the 49ers selected him out of Mississippi Valley State with the 16th overall pick.
Since he was supposedly finished, and since the curtain rose on Act II of his career, when he was 35 years young, Rice has caught 492 passes for 6,440 yards and 42 touchdowns.
Those 492 catches surpass the career totals of six receivers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It's 65 more catches than Hall of Fame receiver Paul Warfield; 92 more than Hall of Famer Tom Fears; 105 more than Hall of Famer Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch; 106 more than Hall of Famer Dante Lavelli; 113 more than hall of Famer Pete Phios; and 156 more than Hall off Famer Lynn Swann.
That's some Act II. The first act leaves him as the player who has reeled in passes and more receiving records than any player who has played the game. Or ever will.
Rice's records, as he often was in the open field, are untouchable. His 1,549 career catches are over 400 more than Cris Carter, the NFL's second most prolific pass catcher.
Rice's 22,895 receiving yards are almost 8,000 more than Tim Brown, the NFL's second most prolific player in receiving yards.
And Rice's 197 touchdowns? It's a mere 67 more than Carter's 130. The numbers defy the mind. But then, so did Rice. Like Wal-Mart, he kept on producing and producing, an end no where in sight.
Only now, it is. For years, Rice didn't know when to stop. It was as if he couldn't. But now, on the last pattern of an unmatched and unparalleled career, Rice is running the out route, every bit as hard to envision as his Canton-esque stats.