Hall of Famer Jerry Rice is viewed as the greatest wide receiver in NFL history, and he has the stats to back up this statement. However, there are some fans that believe he could still suit up and make a difference for multiple teams. These discussions only increased as the NFC Championship drew near.
The Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers were preparing to face off in the title game on Sunday evening when Rice was spotted on the field. The game was taking place at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, which meant that the longtime 49ers star would be on hand for the game.
Rice was not simply walking around on the field, however. He was taking part in the warmups with the current players. Rice was catching passes while donning a classy suit, and yet he looked perfectly at home on the field.
With the footage surfacing on Sunday afternoon, there were multiple comments about the Hall of Fame receiver. Some wanted to see Rice change out the suit for a jersey and try to win a fourth Super Bowl. Others just wanted to mention the impact that he made on the Bay Area, whether it was with the Oakland Raiders or the 49ers.
Routes still 🥶— Rich (@Richifornia) January 19, 2020
Rice was always known as a smooth route-runner, especially after he put in so many hours of work throughout his life and career. The fans believe that he hasn't lost a step despite being in his late 50s. That footwork is still ice cold.
Some receivers in NFL history have found success despite being less-than-perfect at route-running. Rice was not like that during his career. He excelled with his route-running.
Is Rice ready to get back on the football field and lead the 49ers to the Promised Land? The fans have no doubts in their minds that he could do so. Although it's not technically allowed under the league's rules. Despite the legal aspects, the fans are ready to see Rice back in a 49ers uniform. The 57-year-old still has precise route-running and great hands, and they believe that he would perform better than other NFL veterans.
Is Rice the greatest wide receiver in NFL history? Some football fans say Randy Moss or Terrell Owens deserves this honor, but the 49ers faithful wholeheartedly disagree. Rice has the stats to prove his greatness, and he has the Super Bowl wins. As Rice continued to run routes prior to the NFC Championship, the fans reiterated that he is the best receiver in league history. They said that he is the most worthy of being called the GOAT.
Still better than anyone not named Edelman in NE— seanmcnamara (@72seanmcnamara) January 19, 2020
49ers fans certainly were excited to see Rice running routes, and they were fairly surprised that he still looks ready to play. Although these fans did express the belief that Rice is qualified to suit up for many NFL teams. They also thought that he would perform much better than existing options.
Following this video surfacing on Twitter, fans reacted by proclaiming that Rice is a better options for top NFL quarterbacks. They said he would be a better receiver than those in New Orleans and New England not named Michael Thomas or Julian Edelman.
Those quick steps at the end, to make sure he’s in 😹— Shaun Tomko (@shauntomko) January 19, 2020
Rice may have drawn more attention for his route-running and the manner in which he appeared to be ready to suit up, but there were some other details that didn't escape notice. For example, Rice still has the thought in the back of his mind that he has to get both feet in the end zone to guarantee the reception.
The Hall of Famer has not played since the early 2000s, but he hasn't forgotten the key factors that make a successful NFL receiver. His footwork was the perfect example of this fact for the fans.
He looks like he could still play.— Daniel Brown (@DanielBrown0811) January 19, 2020
Rice may be in his late 50s, but the fans on social media do not mind. They still believe that he would be a top option for the 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Although he would not be eligible to suit up due to the league's rules surrounding transactions.
Details aside, there was no doubt in the minds of many football fans that Rice would still be an effective option in the modern NFL. Receivers are more protected from hits, so his body would take less punishment, in theory.
He would me the best WR on the Eagles today— Bob McCall (@bobmccall19601) January 19, 2020
While the 49ers fans were the ones making the most noise about Rice and his ability as a receiver, they were not the only fanbase hoping for the Hall of Famer to come out of retirement. Fans of the Philadelphia Eagles also joined the discussion to make bold proclamations.
The Eagles struggled mightily in the 2019 season as multiple starting receivers suffered injuries. The backups were unable to produce on a consistent basis. The most reliable target for Carson Wentz at the end of the year was Greg Ward, a former quarterback that spent most of the season on the practice squad.
Photo Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images