Antonio Brown: Passing Jerry Rice's Reception Record His Goal with Raiders

Megan ArmstrongContributor IIIMarch 14, 2019

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown smiles during an NFL football news conference, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Alameda, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

It seems like so long ago that NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice was saying on Joe, Lo & Dibs that Antonio Brown wanted to play for the San Francisco 49ers "really bad."

Now officially an Oakland Raider—technically landing in the Bay as Rice predicted—Brown is the one publicly speaking about Rice, who played for the Raiders in the latter years of his career from 2001 to 2004.

During his introductory presser at the Raiders team facility on Wednesday, Brown said: "Obviously my goal in the back of my mind is to catch Jerry Rice. Every year, I have to prove my love. This year I'm out to prove my love."

Oakland acquired Brown in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for 2019 third-round and fifth-round picks.

After finalizing the trade, the Raiders reportedly restructured Brown's three-year contract to include $30 million guaranteed. Without adding any years to Brown's deal, the Raiders heightened the 30-year-old All-Pro's salary from $38.925 million to $50.125 million through 2021, per Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.

At his press conference, Brown mentioned the perks of playing under Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.

"Mr. Gruden played everything in my decision coming here," Brown said. "Obviously, he's an offensive guru. You get excited just talking with him. He's got so much knowledge of the game. He's coached some of the greatest players ever, so he knows what it takes."

Gruden coached Rice in 2001. That season, 39-year-old Rice hauled in 83 balls for 1,139 yards and nine touchdowns. Rice finished his 20-season career with 1,549 receptions, the most in NFL history. Brown enters his 10th NFL season at No. 28 on the NFL all-time receptions leaderboard with 837.

In the meantime, Brown was welcomed by a different legendary Hall of Fame Raiders receiver in Tim Brown:

Antonio Brown acknowledged that he will have to be kept healthy and playing "for a long time" in order to both "prove my love for the game" and surpass Rice. However, Brown also professed an excitement to make history with the Raiders in a way Rice never did, too.

"For me to be in Oakland, part of the Oakland Raiders, and being on the last team that will ever be here in Oakland is something special in itself. There's pressure in that, there's excitement in that and there's a lot that comes with that. And I'm here today ready to embrace all of that."

The Raiders are set to move to Las Vegas in 2020, and Brown's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, suggested on ESPN's SportsCenter that the move to Vegas played a role in Brown's decision.

Before the historic relocation, before Brown can even think about besting Rice, he has to focus on helping to turn around an Oakland franchise that hasn't had a winning season since 2016. He will do so alongside quarterback Derek Carr and recently signed wide receiver Tyrell Williams.

Since 2010 with the Steelers, Brown has accumulated 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns, including a league-leading 15-touchdown season in 2018 despite discord with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. There is no limit to what Brown could do now that he's happy with a team of his choosing.

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