Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Rice says his receiving numbers could have been even more ‘amazing’ in today’s NFL

Oct 1, 2019 at 12:33 PM--

The NFL is always evolving. You hear about rule changes every offseason. While many changes are meant to protect the players, they often favor offenses.

Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice ended his career following the 2004 season. He holds several NFL receiving records, including career receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. It's hard to believe that any player could ever have a more illustrious career than Rice.

Rice believes his achievements could have been even greater had he played in today's NFL. The greatest of all time spoke with Ian Rapoport of NFL Network this week on the "RapSheet and Friends" podcast and was asked what his numbers might have been like had he played within today's rules.

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Rice noted that receivers today are protected more than ever. Targeting has nearly been eliminated from the game, unlike when he played.

"Back when I played, if I was on the left side and if the ball was not even coming my way, I was still getting hit, and you just can't do that today," Rice told Rapoport. "It was more physical downfield against bump-and-run. You can't push the receiver or put your hands on the receiver after five yards.

"So the numbers could have been amazing, to be honest with you, because I played in an era where I was still able to put up outstanding numbers, and I think the game was a little bit more — maybe I shouldn't say a little bit more physical because it's still physical, but I think back when I played, they could put their hands on you just a little bit more."

Rice's numbers are already "amazing." There is no doubt about that. But you have to wonder what the Hall of Famer could have accomplished in a game that protected him more.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Rice below. It begins at about the 45:25 mark.

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