We'll be back with more training camp coverage (and plenty of it), but it's time to take a break from the on field action. At 4pm today, the NFL will begin their annual Hall of Fame Induction ceremony. This year's Hall of Fame ceremony is important for two reasons. Obviously tomorrow's Hall of Fame game marks the official return of on-field action for the NFL. More important is the fact that the greatest wide receiver of all time, and arguably the greatest NFL player of all time (key word "arguably") will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice will officially put on that gold jacket in what was the least shocking induction ever.
This is basically the last major honor for Jerry Rice, although it's certainly not necessary to validate his legendary career. The man owns virtually every significant record for wide receivers, and many major records for all NFL players. My new favorite Wikipedia site is the one listing all of Rice's records. Even if it is not entirely accurate (as Wikipedia can occasionally be less than accurate), this could be half accurate and it would still be fairly ridiculous.
More after the jump, but if you missed it earlier, we had a Jerry Rice-specific edition of the Golden Nuggets.
I'm not going to try and wax poetic about Rice because we know how awesome he is and I'm not really that eloquent. His record-breaking achievements are similar to Wayne Gretzky and his hold on the NHL record book. Maybe not quite as dominant, but he owns the NFL record books.
As seems to have become the case when discussing Rice, some folks like to point to Don Hutson as the most dominant when factoring in the era in which he played. While I don't want to talk to long about this since this is a day to celebrate Rice, I would like to at least address the argument. In the SI article linked above, the writer analogizes Rice/Hutson to Aaron/Ruth.
The difference, in my mind, is how the two sports differ in their development over the years. The major difference between MLB in the 30s and MLB now is the integration of the sport and expansion of talent to all over the world. The rules have changed a bit, but really baseball has remained fairly similar over the years. Football on the other hand has changed dramatically since Don Hutson played in the 30s and 40s. In Hutson's day, the forward pass was still a relative novelty as compared to today and the way the sport was played was drastically different. But that's enough on Hutson because today is not about him.
Today is about the guy who will always be the G.O.A.T. in my book, and that of most, if not all, 49ers fans. Some of his records will likely fall at some point, but given how inflated the passing game has become recently, one can factor that in to the records. Rice received some benefit from the inflated passing games, but we have to remember that his work in San Francisco in the 80s was a major reason for the development of the passing game in the NFL. So even if the records don't stand, he's still the standard-bearer for wide receivers, and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.
Congratulations to Jerry Rice, The Greatest Of All Time.