Terrell Owens vs. Randy Moss: Chasing Jerry Rice's NFL Records
Despite being 38 years of age and coming off of a serious knee surgery, Owens astounded the Seahawks staff by running the 40-yard dash in under 4.45 seconds.
He's back and he's hungry, no one can deny that.
Owens will now return to the NFC West for the first time since he left the San Francisco 49ers in 2004.
He conditioned and rehabbed himself last year in the hopes of making a late-season return in 2011. After having expressed interest in returning to play for his former team, the 49ers decided to head into the postseason with "what got them there."
The 49ers wide receiving corps collectively caught only three passes total in a 20-17 overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game.
Had Alex Smith been throwing to Owens instead of Delanie Walker, it's not unreasonable to assume that the 49ers would probably have been competing in Super Bowl XLVI.
During the offseason, San Francisco opted to sign Owens' long-time rival Randy Moss instead—setting the stage for a 2012 divisional rivalry that will now hold great historical significance.
Both Terrell Owens and Randy Moss are tied for second place on the all-time NFL touchdown receptions list with 153.
Who is the greatest wide receiver in NFL history?
When Owens' knee injury and Moss' premature retirement kept both legends off of the football field in 2011, it was assumed that Jerry Rice's all-time touchdown record was secure.
After all, 197 career touchdown receptions puts Rice's record into another stratosphere.
Owens and Moss respectively have been the only players in NFL history productive enough to even threaten it, and they both return to the NFC West with new teams in 2012—their rivalry renewed.
Both 45 touchdowns away from one of the NFL's most unbreakable records.
To put it in perspective, former 49ers Pro Bowl receiver John Taylor had only 43 touchdown receptions in his entire career.
Lets break down the career production:
Jerry Rice: 1,549 receptions for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns.
Terrell Owens: 1,078 receptions for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns.
Randy Moss: 954 receptions for 14,858 yards and 153 touchdowns.
Rice ranks No. 1 in receptions, No. 1 in yards and No. 1 in touchdowns.
Owens ranks No. 6 in receptions, No. 2 in yards and is tied for No. 2 in touchdowns.
Moss ranks No. 9 in receptions, No. 5 in yards and is tied for No. 2 in touchdowns.
It would be almost impossible for either Owens or Moss to break Rice's receptions or yards records; but however unlikely, Rice's all-time touchdown record still has the potential to be broken.
Owens or Moss would need to average 11-12 touchdowns per season for the next four years to break it.
Rice played until he was 42 years old, and there is no doubt that Owens is in much better shape at 38 than Rice was. Rice tore both his ACL and MCL towards the latter stage of his career and never looked half as explosive as Owens was yesterday.
It should be mentioned that noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews successfully repaired Owens' knee with 2011-caliber surgical technology. The ability to come back from a knee injury is not what it used to be, and Owens' obsession and dedication to rehab and physical conditioning is living proof of that.
Moss is three years younger than Owens, but there is no way to know how much longer either of their respective careers will span.
Regardless of whether or not either of them are able to break Rice's records, they will still be in heated competition to secure second place statistically on the NFL's all-time production list.
Both players have an impeccably high football I.Q., and both players are driven to be the best.
It can be argued that both Owens and Moss (prime-for-prime) were better than Rice ever was.
The NFL record book may end up being decided by the test of longevity.
Considering the fact that a good argument could be made for either Owens or Moss being the most dangerous to ever play the position—2012 may end up deciding who truly is the "greatest of all-time."
Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. Any questions, comments or professional inquiries can be directed to his email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
He also writes for www.TerrellOwensDefense.org
Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/theryanmichael
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