Jerry Rice has long been regarded as the best player to ever step onto an NFL field.
But after Tom Brady won his seventh career Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, the Hall of Fame wide receiver won’t argue if people want to hand his crown to the star quarterback.
“I don’t have seven Super Bowl rings, but I think I played in an era when football was more of a contact sport,” Rice said Monday on “The Morning Roast,” according to Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith. “You’re seeing a lot of that now – players are protected.
“When you have seven rings, you’re doing something right. I think with Brady, he still wants to play. He said something about playing until he’s 45. I think he can do it now in this league because players are so much more protected. So, yeah, he can have that GOAT status. I never wanted that status anyhow.”
Rice won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers and was named MVP of Super Bowl XXIII. He was also named Offensive Player of the Year twice and was either a first- or second-team All-Pro in 12 of his 20 seasons.
The wideout’s statistical career dominance at his position bolsters the argument for him being the greatest NFL player of all time.
Rice’s 22,895 receiving yards and 1,549 catches are 5,403 and 117, respectively, ahead of second-placed Larry Fitzgerald. The former 49ers star’s 198 touchdown grabs are also 41 more than Randy Moss.
While Brady’s seven Super Bowl titles dwarf the championship achievements of every other quarterback, his career statistics and awards don’t stand apart from his compatriots the way Rice’s do.
Brady’s 79,204 passing yards are second all-time to Drew Brees’ 80,358, and the 43-year-old is just 10 passing touchdowns ahead of the New Orleans Saints signal-caller with 581. Meanwhile, Brady’s three MVP awards and three first-team All-Pro nods trail Peyton Manning’s five MVPs and seven first-team All-Pro nominations.
But with the Bucs field general suggesting before Super Bowl LV that he could play beyond his long-stated goal of age 45 – and Brees seemingly heading for retirement – Brady could still further cement his case as the GOAT.