49ers Legend Jerry Rice: I Might've Been Able to 'Double' My Stats in Modern NFL

Blake SchusterContributor IJuly 8, 2021

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Jerry Rice attends the Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Over the course of Jerry Rice's Hall of Fame career, the wideout posted an astounding 22,895 receiving yards and 197 touchdown receptions—both NFL records—on 1,549 catches. 

Yet Rice played from 1985 to 2004, before rules were adjusted to better protect quarterbacks and offensive stars. Which brings the former San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl MVP to one conclusion: If he played in today's NFL, he may be able to double his stats. 

Rice explained why while hanging in Lake Tahoe ahead of the annual American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament. 

"The game really favors the wide receiver now, because you can’t put your hands on him,” Rice told Peacock's Brother from Another. "... Linebackers can’t take shots at you coming across the middle anymore. It’s kind of hard because it’s hypothetical, but I probably might be able to, like, double everything.”

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Even with recency bias, it's hard to fault Rice's logic. It's just his conclusion that's rather eye-opening. Rice averaged 75.6 receiving yards per game. To double his numbers, he'd have to average about 150 per game, which would shatter the record held by Julio Jones (95.5 per game). 

Maybe the 2014 Super Bowl commercial in which he's NFL prospect "Jerry Ricecake" convinced Rice he still has the tools necessary to play in today's game. Regardless, there are few quarterbacks in the modern NFL who could get the ball to him like Joe Montana and Steve Young could. 

It's just impossible to put it past Rice to prove any detractors wrong. After all, he is the greatest wideout in NFL history.