THE LINEUP #10: The NFL’s 10 Greatest Wide Receivers

Posted: August 3, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL, The Lineup
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With Randy Moss walking away from the game on Monday, (and potentially Terrell Owens not too far behind), the debate went into play right away about whether he sees his way into the Hall of Fame. When considering this, it makes some level of sense, even though by impact and numbers he is a no-brainer. However, if anything has proven to be true in HOF voting, is that even the greatest receivers sometimes have to wait for their due.

Without a doubt, Moss stands among the best ever at his position in the game. Along with him, many of his contemporaries do as well, with the wide receiver position in particular taking major jumps forward in the last 20 years or so. We are truly living in good times for this spot right now. But even in these times, there are a few that stand head and pads above the rest. Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson are nice, but they’ve got some work to do before getting where this group stands.

Moss' best season TD mark by himself equaled the total of first and second best totals in 2010.

So where does one of the game’s most unique (and variously entertaining) talents land at? Let’s take a look into the LINEUP and at the top 10 Wide Receivers in NFL history via the CHEAP SEATS.


(For comparision’s sake on the HOF debate, all inductees are noted by an asterisk – *)


10. Art Monk (1980-1995)*: It took a while for the a man who was arguably the second best receiver of the 80’s to get his due recognition in the Hall of Fame (13 years), but it was undeniable that he belonged. A three-time Super Bowl champ and Pro Bowler, Monk was ahead of his time in many regards. In 1992, he became the all-time receptions leader in NFL history with 820th catch, and was the first receiver to have consecutive 1,200 yard/90 catch seasons.


9. Steve Largent (1976-1989)*: There have been plenty of productive white wide outs in the game, but in the end, sooner or later it gets made clear “They aren’t Steve Largent”. Well, that’s because regardless of color, there aren’t many like him period. The now-Congressman Largent was a seven time Pro Bowler for the Seattle Seahawks, and had one of the best pairs of hands anyone ever possessed. When he retired, he held the all-time marks for receptions (819), receiving yards (13,089) and touchdowns (100).

Largent broke the mold, right after setting it, during his record setting run through Seattle.

8. Isaac Bruce (1994-2009): While much of his shine comes from being associated with the St. Louis Rams’ juggernaut “Greatest Show on Turf” offense (where in 2000, along with Torry Holt, he become half of the only receiving duo to each gain 1,400 yards in a season), Bruce was set secondaries ablaze both before and after that era. Others made more headlines and Super Bowl trophies, but very few had the combined impact and longevity he had. Owner of eight 1,000 yard seasons and his 117 catches in his second year are a record for a player 25 years old or under.


7. Michael Irvin (1988-1999)*: “The Playmaker” was just that, and was the most exciting receiver of the 1990’s. He remains one of the most physical receivers of all-time, and could get to anything thrown in his direction. His 47 100 yard games is third most in history. He played loud and on the league’s highest level quite often; he never lost a Super Bowl he reached. As Troy Aikman’s top option for the Dallas Cowboys of the early 90’s, he stands second all-time in postseason catches, receiving yards and touchdowns.


6. Tim Brown (1988-2004): The rare Heisman winner that kept killing at the next level, Brown is one of the greatest big play receivers in NFL history. In route to his 1,094 catches, he set a record for most consecutive seasons with at least 75 catches, which he did for 10 straight seasons. His impact as a returner was major as well. In addition to his 14,734 receiving yards, he tacked on an additional 4,900 special teams yards, and his all-purpose yardage is fifth best ever.


5. Marvin Harrison (1996-2008): Never the fastest and nowhere near the biggest, Harrison ran better routes than anyone else ever did and caught everything thrown his way it seemed like. True to his style on the field, his numbers sneak up on you, but make a big impact. He averaged over 100 catches for an 11 year span from ’96 to ’06, including his record setting 143 in 2002. His eight consecutive seasons of at least 10 touchdowns are an all-time record. Apparently, he’s a bit of a “silent assassin” off the field as well, but that’s for another time.

Along with Peyton Manning, Harrison is the end half of the most productive pitch-and-catch combo ever.

4. Cris Carter (1987-2002): How the second best receiver of the 1990’s is still waiting to enter the Hall of Fame is one of the biggest oddities in sports. After settling in Minnesota in his fourth season, Carter wasted no time becoming one of the busiest pass catchers in the game, and didn’t let up for another decade. He is the only player to have back-to-back 120 reception seasons, and held the single season record for a period of time with his dual 122 catch years. Owner of eight consecutive 1,000 yard campaigns, Carter was just as money in tight spots, with his 48 touchdowns of seven yards or closer being an NFL record.


3. Terrell Owens (1996-Present): Blessed with a combination of size and speed no other player at the position has ever had, TO is a one of a kind player…in many regards. His talent for making headlines via on-field stunts and sometimes controversial attitudes has overridden has somewhat silenced how devastating of a player he has been as well. He is the owner of 17 different NFL records and is second all-time in receiving yards and is tied for second most touchdowns (153). His seven seasons of at least 13 touchdowns is only surpassed by Jerry Rice’s 8.

No matter what helmet he's worn...and he's rocked a few...TO has been unstoppable, on and off the field.

2. Randy Moss (1998-2010): A player who was/is characterized by extremes, for better or worse. At his peaks (and he had multiple ones), he was arguably the greatest big play creator of all-time. Moss possessed a skill set that has not been approached by any other player in league history, and is height and speed combination was devastating enough on its own, but add in his freakish leaping ability, and it’s no wonder that he is the best deep threat in the league’s history. His 15.6 yards per catch are the most ever by a player with 900+ to his credit. He finished his career with 76 catches of 40 yards or more, and as a result, he lived in the end zone. His 153 TDs are tied for second most ever, and he owns the single season touchdown record, with 23 in 2007. His 17 TD grabs as a rookie are a record as well, and his three seasons totaling 16 or more are also a record.


1. Jerry Rice (1985-2004)*: This is a no-brainer if there is one in the game. Jerry Rice isn’t just the best wide receiver ever; he is also the best football player and arguably the most dominant athlete in pro sports history. He holds nearly every major receiving and scoring record in the games history. As opposed to trying to list all of his accomplishments (and almost guaranteeing the oversight of a major mark he set), here is the distance between himself in the major stats of the position, and everyone else behind him on this list.

–          1,549 receptions: 447 better than Harrison’s 2nd best total.

–          22,895 yards & 197 touchdown catches: 6,961 yards and 44 scores above Owens’ totals.

–          208 total scores are 33 above Emmitt Smith’s 2nd best career total.

And he’s the greatest of all-time by a great margin than any of these numbers add up to.

There is no player, or perhaps even athlete in ANY sport, that can approach Rice's legacy.


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