Jerry Rice used to own the most significant single-season receiving records in the NFL, but those have been broken in recent years by the likes of Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson. Although Moss was an amazing talent years ago and 'Megatron' continues to impress, there's no doubt that changes in league rules have favored the passing game and made it easier to break the GOAT's records.
Still, Rice's career receiving records are the most impressive and not something the league could easily undermine with rule changes, so let's review those records below:
Rice garnered 1,549 receptions between 1985 and 2004, catching passes from greats like Montana and Young to also-rans like Garcia and Gannon, but trailing in 2nd place for this category is Tony Gonzalez at 1,242 receptions.
Now we thought the veteran tight-end was retiring last year after his Atlanta Falcons lost the NFC Title Game to our beloved Red & Gold, but then Gonzalez flip-flopped and decided to come back for another year. Since he came to Atlanta four years ago, he's average a little over 80 receptions per year, so if Gonzalez keeps that average going for the next three and a half years, he WILL break Rice's record. But then again, what are the odds of a tight-end playing to the age of 40 these days? There really isn't any other active player within striking distance of Rice's career receptions record, so here's hoping Gonzalez retires after this season for good.
CAREER RECEIVING YARDS:
IMHO, this is the most impressive of Rice's receiving records, because if you look at the numbers of the guy in 2nd place, it's not even close. At 22,985 yards, the next closest receiver is almost 7,000 yards behind him, and that guy (Terrell Owens) has essentially been blacklisted by the NFL. His reputation as a cancer in the locker room is so well known that no NFL team wants him, and it doesn't help that he's almost 40 years old. Don't even bother asking about guys that are still active; Reggie Wayne is way back at 13,063 yards, and he's 34 years old.
CAREER RECEIVING TOUCHDOWNS:
To catch Rice's record of 197 career receiving touchdowns, Randy Moss would need another 41 scores in the end zone, but the odds of that happening are slim to none given his age and diminished abilities as a deep threat receiver. The next active and closest guy is Tony Gonzalez, but he's even further away at 103 scores. It's way too early to say if someone as talented as Larry Fitzgerald can even come within arm's reach of the record, given how many awful quarterbacks he's had in Arizona. As it stands, Fitzgerald is at 77 scores.
One could also gush over Rice's other career records like yards from scrimmage or playoff games started as a testament to his endurance, but the fact that he owns the three most significant career receiving records attests to his versatility. Now give it up for the GOAT!