Although there have been many great NFL receivers over the years, any discussion about the greatest of all time begins and ends with Rice. Three Super Bowl rings and 13 Pro Bowl selections only begin to tell the story of just how dominating No. 80 was throughout most of his career.
The impressive thing about Rice, who made a career of taking eight-yard slants the distance, is not the fact that he holds so many receiving records. It's more the way he went far beyond any numbers ever posted before. He didn't just break records. He shattered, smashed, and then stomped all over them.
Rice began his NFL career as a highly-touted prospect out of Mississippi Valley State in 1985. But his 4.7 speed in the 40-yard dash caused teams to shy away from him on draft day before the San Francisco 49ers selected him with the 16th pick in the first round. Twenty years and 303 games later, Rice ranks among the Jim Browns and Walter Paytons as one of the best to ever strap on the shoulder pads.
During his career, Rice caught 1,549 passes for 22,895 yards and had 197 touchdown receptions. To put those numbers in perspective, take a look at those he has long-since surpassed. Cris Carter is second to Rice with 1,101 receptions; a difference of 448 catches from No. 1 to No. 2. And it was Carter again who registered 67 fewer receiving touchdowns to once again finish second to Rice.
The legendary Tim Brown falls an unbelievable 8,000 yards short of Rice in receiving yards despite playing for 17 years himself. The difference alone in these stats would be considered a great career by most receivers.
Most consecutive games with a pass reception: Rice 274, Art Monk 183.
Most seasons over 1,000 yards receiving: Rice 14, Tim Brown 9
Most games over 100 yards receiving: Rice 76, Don Maynard 50
And the list goes on and on. The disparity between Rice and his closest rival is phenomenal, which is why he is easily the best receiver the league has ever seen.