San Francisco 49ers: Is Jerry Rice the Greatest NFL Player of All Time?

Mihir BhagatSenior Analyst IIINovember 5, 2010

23 Dec 2000:  A close up of Jerry Rice #80 of the San Francisco 49ers as he looks on while playing his last game as a 49er during the game against the Denver Broncos at the Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the 49ers 38-9. Mandatory Credit: Harry How  /Allsport
Harry How/Getty Images

Former San Francisco 49ers star wide receiver Jerry Rice has been recognized as the greatest player of all time according to an NFL Network Top 100 ranking. Ever since they published the list, they've drawn controversy from football fans.

Regardless of the various opinions swirling around, I continue to firmly believe that the NFL Network made a wise decision. Jerry Rice is definitely the greatest player in NFL history.

Frankly, Rice could do it all; he has the accolades to show for it. The wideout played for 20 seasons was an 11-time All-Pro and holds virtually every statistical category for receivers—by far. He had hands of glue, ran precise routes and was arguably the best ever in terms of making plays after the catch. All in all, No. 80 was simply dominant.

What impressed me the most about Rice was the fact that he was at his best at the biggest stage. Whether it be beating Deion Sanders, who's the best cornerback of all time, or putting on spectacular performances in the Super Bowl, Rice always got the job done no matter what the situation.

Interestingly enough, a lot of that wasn't due to raw physical skills. In fact, Rice wasn't the fastest or strongest player at his position. Instead, he relied on his remarkable instincts and most of that was a product of his tremendous passion for the game and incredible work ethic. Whomever you speak to, they will rave about the amount of preparation Rice put into the game and that's why he's accomplished these impressive feats.

Sure, he may have had some help playing alongside skilled teammates. However, that shouldn't take anything away from him. 

Others can argue that Rice doesn't deserve the honor because a receiver only touches the ball a handful of times a game. While that's certainly true, those few opportunities were more than enough. Anytime Rice made a play, it was simply mystifying. 

Looking at the bigger picture, Rice revolutionized how the sport of football is played today. 

That said, I don't think any other player can even come close to his body of work and to be honest, they may never. 

So, congratulations Jerry Rice on being named the No. 1 player of all time. You earned it.