Jerry Rice was caught red-handed—or in this case, Stickum-handed—in a bit of hypocrisy after Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio brought to light an interview in which the Hall of Fame wide receiver admitted to gaining an illegal advantage in certain games.
Speaking to ESPN's Jim Trotter for a piece titled "The Evolution of Gloves" that aired on January 17, Rice said he used a banned substance to help him catch the football.
CBSSports.com's John Breech posted a Vine of the incriminating evidence:
The NFL banned Stickum in 1981, so Rice's usage would've been highly illegal during any point of his 20-year career, which began in 1985.
Rice took to Twitter early Saturday morning to apologize and offer a rationale for his decision to use the adhesive:
The galling aspect for many New England Patriots fans was that Rice went on The Jim Rome Show on January 22 to decry Deflategate and the Patriots' potential involvement.
"I’m going to be point blank, I feel like it’s cheating," Rice said on the show, via Florio. "Because you have an edge up on your opponent and its unfortunate that it happened. I’m not saying the outcome of the game would have been different or anything like that because they got beat 45-7, but they still had an edge."
Florio added his take, saying: "It wasn’t a little illegal, it was a lot illegal. …With or without the stickum or the gloves, Rice still would have been the greatest receiver of all time. But, as he said regarding the Patriots, he still had an edge."
Much in the same way Rice's acknowledgement that deflating footballs had little impact on the 2015 AFC title game, Rice's legacy isn't all of a sudden tainted by his admitted use of banned adhesive substances.
However, it sheds light on another way that players have gamed the system to their advantage. The Patriots, if found guilty, will be far from the first team to gain a possibly illegal edge on the competition, and they almost certainly won't be the last.