There space some things in sports that one simply accepts there is no hesitation. The new York Yankees are the greatest franchise in professional sports history. Michael Jordan is the greatest clutch player in basketball history. And Jerry Rice is the greatest wide receiver in NFL history.

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However, what if a closer examination revealed...that the general public could be wrong?

What if Jerry Rice yes, really isn"t the greatest vast receiver in NFL history?

What if somebody 50, 60, even 70 years earlier was better?

Accept it. It"s true.

Meet Don Hutson, wide receiver that the environment-friendly Bay Packers indigenous 1935-1945.

Don Hutson, the greatest large receiver in the 89-year background of the national Football League.

To to compare Hutson and Rice, I have chosen five various topics to emphasis on: supporting cast, longevity, postseason, affect on the game, and many importantly, a statistics analysis.

1. Sustaining Cast


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Let"s be honest. Jerry Rice was truly blessed transparent his entire career.

Rice had actually the deluxe of play for 2 of the five greatest quarterbacks in NFL history: Joe Montana and also Steve Young. He additionally played because that Jeff Garcia, a three-time pro Bowler. And also as a member the the Oakland Raiders, he recorded passes from affluent Gannon, who recorded the 2002 MVP award.

Overall, Rice played 20 periods in the NFL, during which his quarterbacks went to the agree Bowl 13 times and earned five—count "em, FIVE—Most beneficial Player awards.

Rice never played for a quarterback that was anything brief of spectacular.

What about Hutson?

Hutson play for three very, very good quarterbacks: Arnie Herber, Cecil Isbell, and also Irv Comp. Herber is at this time a member the the agree Football hall of Fame and also Isbell to be a four-time agree Bowl selection.

Comp to be a an excellent quarterback who played prefer a great quarterback throughout the three seasons he played v Hutson. The year after ~ Hutson retired, Comp threw for one touchdown pass and eight interceptions, if posting a single-digit passer rating (yes, solitary digits).

However, as good as Herber, Isbell, and Comp were, they to be never much better than Sammy Baugh or Sid Luckman.

Baugh and also Luckman were constantly the two best quarterbacks in the NFL. Their rivalry was arguably the most intense in NFL background (sorry Colts and Patriots fans).

Whoever quarterbacked the green Bay Packers, together in, whoever had the high-end of throwing come Don Hutson, to be generally taken into consideration to be the 3rd best quarterback in the 10-team national Football League.

Advantage: Hutson, easily

2. Longevity

Jerry Rice play 20 periods in the nationwide Football League. He played every single game of every solitary season, other than for 1997, once he missed 14 games because of a torn ACL suffered in the season opener, ~ a facemask handle by Warren Sapp.

Rice reverted in the season finale, recording his lone touchdown pass, but cracking the patella in his left kneecap ~ above landing.

In all, Rice play 303 consistent season games in his NFL career, and also another 29 in the postseason. He played in much more games than any type of non-kicker in NFL history and holds many longevity records, including oldest player to score a touchdown (40) and the oldest vast receiver come play in the NFL (42).

His training regimen was legendary, as he was particularly detailed for his fondness of running up hills in the offseason, a technique also made use of by the good Walter Payton.

And Hutson?

Hutson played 11 periods in the national Football League. The played vast receiver and also defensive end. He additionally kicked ar goals and also extra points.

He play in 116 that 120 games during his 11 seasons, absent three gamings in his rookie season and also one in 1938. Play both ways—all three ways—Hutson played in 96.7 percent that games during his NFL career, slightly greater than Rice"s 95.6 percentage.

In essence, Hutson literally played every 60 minute of every solitary football game.

Advantage: Rice, yet only by a tiny bit.

3. Postseason

Yup, we"re addressing the postseason prior to the continual season. Why? since the continuous season supplies a larger sample size and also is thus much more important in to compare all-time greats.

Jerry Rice has actually been simply as successful—and consistent—in the postseason as he has been in the regular season.

In 28 postseason games, Rice captured 151 passes for 2245 yards and 22 touchdowns. Projected over a solitary season, Rice"s stats would look prefer this: 86 receptions, 1283 yards, 13 touchdowns.

Rice caught three touchdown overcome in two different Super Bowls. His 215 receiving yards in Super bowl XXIII are a single-game record.

Rice played in 4 Super Bowls. Three times he walked away on the win team.

What about Hutson?

Well, Hutson play for 2 championship to win teams. He play in four full NFL championship games.

Unfortunately, video game statistics cannot be found from these championship games, for this reason we have actually no idea just how Hutson performed.

All the is noted from these gamings is the boxscore, an interpretation we understand that Don Hutson scored on a game-winning 48-yard touchdown agree in the 1936 NFL championship game. That didn"t score in any type of of the various other three NFL championship games. One touchdown in four championship gamings is not at every impressive, yet chances are pretty good, though, the the greatest player in the NFL had actually a significant role in his team"s two championships.

He might not have conquered quite favor Rice, however then again why couldn"t he have? good players step up their game when that counts.

Unfortunately, it"s difficult to know just how Hutson played, as well as his lone touchdown.

Advantage: Rice

4. Affect on the Game

Rice verified that a wide receiver deserve to excel—even dominate—without gift the biggest, the strongest, or the fastest.

Longtime Cardinals" coach Dennis green calls Jerry Rice "the greatest route runner I"ve ever before seen." Rice is additionally universally pertained to as one of the best, if not the best, blocking receiver in NFL history.

And Hutson?

Well, Don Hutson fully revolutionized the place of broad receiver in the nationwide Football League. He to be the very first great recipient in league history. Top top Hutson"s very first play from scrimmage in his an initial NFL start, he recorded an 83-yard touchdown pass. The Packers winner the game 7-0 and also a legend had actually been born.

Hutson is said to have actually literally developed the arts of "route-running" among large receivers. He is credited with creating the buttonhook, the hook-and-go, and also Z-outs. The was claimed that there wasn"t a single defender in Hutson"s era who might cover the one-on-one. Not one.

Hutson literally produced the position of broad receiver in the national Football League. He didn"t just revolutionize it for future generations. He produced the position.

I wish Dennis eco-friendly (or any of us) can have watched Don Hutson play.

Advantage: Hutson

5. Statistics...

...where Rice blows Hutson away. Right?


I have actually one tiny issue with the success that Jerry Rice.

Rice had wonderful stats, stats that look much far better on file than Don Hutson. Yet nobody in the NFL dominated the remainder of the league like Don Hutson.

Take Rice"s 1995 season: 122 catches, 1848 yards, 15 touchdowns.

Rice"s season is easily one the the greatest in history, right?

Nope. A situation could it is in made that Rice was simply the fourth best receiver in the NFC that season.

Herman Moore recorded 123 (a new single-season record) passes for 1686 yards and 14 touchdowns, regardless of having Scott Mitchell together his quarterback (career pro Bowl selections: zero).

Isaac Bruce recorded 119 passes for 1781 yards and also 13 touchdowns. His quarterback(s)? kris Miller and also Mark Rypien. The following leading recipient on the St. Louis Rams was the ever-dangerous trojan Drayton, a 260-pound tight end who hauled in 47 passes for 458 yards and also four touchdowns during the season.

Cris Carter captured 122 passes for 1371 yards and also a league-leading 17 touchdowns, while helping to coax one final an excellent season the end of the 39-year-old Warren Moon.

Michael Irvin recorded 111 balls for 1603 yards and also 10 touchdowns. Nine various players caught 100 passes the season. The list goes on and also on.

Now, not to take it anything far from Rice, yet he wasn"t rather as leading as some people may realize.

In his 20 seasons in the national Football League, Rice led the organization in receptions twice, yards 6 times, and touchdowns six times. In all, the led the league in 14 different categories during his career, all in between 1986-1996.

His 22 touchdown captures in 1987 collection an NFL single-season record. Even an ext incredibly, they came in simply 12 games, due to a strike-shortened season.

He recorded 122 overcome in 1995, the second highest single-season full in NFL history. His 1848 receiving yards did collection a single-season record.

Rice hauled in 100 passes 4 times, 90 passes six times, and 80 passes 12 times. The topped 1000 yards receiving in 14 different seasons. He captured double-digit touchdowns ripe times, including five seasons of end 15. Every one of these space NFL records.

What around Hutson?

Hutson to be literally the greatest vast receiver in the national Football League annually for 11 consecutive seasons. He can have to be the ideal PLAYER in the national Football organization in half of those seasons.

Hutson led the NFL in receptions eight times. He topped the league in receiving yards 7 times. The finished an initial in touchdown records nine times. In all, Hutson finished first in 24 different receiving categories in his 11 seasons. The finished second seven times, third once, and also sixth once. He perfect in the optimal three in all three receiving categories in 32 that 33 feasible chances. The just exception? A 6th place end up in receptions in his rookie season.

You desire to give Rice an benefit because he played in a league with 30 teams, compared to Hutson, who played with 10 teams?

Realistically, that"s fair.

Let"s count all of Rice"s optimal three finishes in receiving statistics, while just counting Hutson"s number one finishes.

Rice finished in the top three in receptions 6 times, receiving yards ten times, and also touchdowns ripe times. That"s same to 25 first place finishes, which would give him a minuscule benefit (25-24) end Hutson.

Hutson"s 1942 season is the best season by a wide receiver in the history of the national Football League. There room no ifs, ands, or buts. Hutson caught 74 passes because that 1211 yards and also 17 touchdowns. In today"s game, this season would look fantastic. In 1942, Hutson"s season was just out the this world.

The league"s second, third, and fourth leading receivers linked for 74 receptions for 1336 yards and 17 touchdowns. Those are the total statistics the the next finest three large receivers COMBINED. Projected end a 16 game season, Hutson"s statistics would look prefer this:

108 captures for 1761 yards and also 25 touchdowns

That"s there is no any method to to compare the difference in eras. You think that passing was taken into consideration to be legit in the 1940s? happen the football was thought about risky! The forward happen was considered dangerous so most teams utilized two or three running backs (and often two or three quarterbacks).

Hutson"s season was Ruthian. He caught an ext touchdown passes than eight the the nine teams in the nationwide Football League. The had much more receiving yards than 4 NFL groups and much more receptions than 3 teams.

In any type of given year, because that Jerry Rice to dominate the remainder of the league the way Hutson did, Rice would require approximately:

300 catches for 4200 yards and also 45 touchdowns.

That"s never ever going to happen. Ever. Just one player has ever gotten fifty percent of any type of of those statistics in a single season, and that was as soon as Randy Moss recorded 23 touchdown passes in his record-breaking 2007 season.

Let"s look at at exactly how each player carry out in their typical season. We"ll offer Rice an benefit and pick his finest 11 seasons, definition we exclude, his rookie season (1985) and also every season ~ 1997. Because that Hutson, we deserve to simply usage his whole career, which to be 11 seasons.

In Rice"s 11 ideal seasons, he caught 1001 passes for 15450 yards and 151 touchdowns.

In Hutson"s 11 seasons, he caught 488 passes because that 7991 yards and 99 touchdowns.

It"s not also close. Rice blows Hutson away. Currently let"s look in ~ their median season.

Rice average 91 records for 1405 yards and also 14 touchdowns.

Hutson average 44 catches for 726 yards and 9 touchdowns.

When adjusting come a 16-game schedule, Hutson"s mean season looks favor this:

67 records for 1,102 yards and also 14 touchdowns.

Rice tho wins by a kind amount.

But there"s quiet one much more adjustment to be made—accounting because that the difference in eras played. As soon as Hutson played, the mean team pass the ball about 20 times per game. In Rice"s era, teams passed about 30 times per game. The last adjustment reflects Hutson"s average season looking favor this:

101 captures for 1,653 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Those are Don Hutson"s statistics on an typical season, projected to today"s game.

You want to see his 1942 season again, with all of the adjustments?

162 catches for 2,641 yards and also 38 touchdowns.

And for the last comparison?

Let"s check out Hutson"s 11-year career contrasted to Jerry Rice"s 20 seasons, when readjusted for eras.

Hutson: 1,110 catches, 18,389 yards, 225 touchdowns, 16.4 yards every catch

Rice: 1,549 catches, 22,895 yards, 197 touchdowns, 14.8 yards every catch

Despite a nine-year disadvantage in career length, Hutson"s readjusted stats regulate to outscore Rice through 28 touchdowns.

Rice caught around 400 more passes for 4000 much more yards, which, if distributed among those extra ripe seasons, is same to 49 captures for 501 yards per season. Those space the number of a heavy number 3 receiver.

Ignoring the distinction in ages is the best mistake one have the right to make as soon as comparing two players. On paper, Rice shows up to punch Hutson away, but in reality, it"s Don Hutson that leaves Jerry Rice in the dust.

Advantage: Hutson, by a heavy margin.

The Verdict

Calling Jerry Rice the greatest wide receiver in NFL background is probably the safest debate for a football pan to make.

However, I very doubt that many football fans have actually even thought about the various other side of the fence—that there is in reality somebody much better than Rice.

Hutson led the NFL in the three significant receiving statistics 24 the end of 33 times. He perfect in the height three 32 times. He led the league in either receptions, yards, or touchdowns every solitary season that his career.

He won the receiving Triple Crown 5 times, including 4 consecutive seasons (1941-1944). He caught a touchdown ~ above 20 percent the his receptions, compared to 13 percent for Jerry Rice.

Don Hutson is the only vast receiver in NFL background to success the Most an useful Player award, which he did twice (1941 and 1942).

Hutson was a winner, as shown by his 4 championship game appearances and also two victories.

He didn"t have actually the career length that Jerry Rice did, yet he likewise never shed a step, retiring at the top of his game. Rice, however, never again produced an elite season after his ACL injury at the age of 35.

When his career statistics are changed due to the moment periods, Hutson matches up quite well with Rice.

When their median seasonal statistics are compared, Hutson blows Rice away.

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There"s no other method to look in ~ it. The greatest large receiver in NFL background is not a 6"2", 200-pound first-round draft choose from Mississippi sink State—it"s a 6"1, 183-pound walk-on at the university of Alabama.