It was a tough, challenging day of football. The weather was hot and humid, and the fans were making the players work. The Chargers defense was giving up big plays, and the offense was giving up big plays. The fans were getting loud, and the team was getting frustrated. The team had to get a win.

The NFL season is almost in the books and we’ve had so many comebacks and amazing performances in the playoffs. With so many quarterback changes and offensive line issues, there were a lot of takeaways from the season. The Arizona Cardinals came out of nowhere to win 11 games and even though they lost to the New England Patriots in the NFC title game, it’s hard to not be impressed with their season.

The New York Giants gained 11 lbs of offensive muscle Thursday night when they selected quarterback Christian Hackenberg with the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft. They did not, however, gain 11 lbs of offense on the ground. Quarterback Eli Manning is 34 years old and has missed a few games in the past year, and the team backfield of Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams did not come close to replicating the Giants rushing attack of 2013, when they led the league with 3,923 yards and ranked third in the NFL with 28 rushing touchdowns.

At first look, you’d have no option but to believe Jerry Rice’s 20-year NFL career statistics were plucked from the newest version of “Madden.” Rice’s Hall of Fame career with the San Francisco 49ers has him regarded as one of the best — if not the best — wide receivers in NFL history.

Rice has a staggering 1,549 catches for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns throughout the course of his career. Rice has 1,281 catches for 19,247 yards and 176 touchdowns with the 49ers.

Some football fans have speculated that the 49ers force-fed Rice the ball to inflate his stats since the numbers are so enormous and incomprehensible. That isn’t the case, unfortunately for those fans (and the rest of the NFL).

During his 49ers career, Jerry Rice was never forced to play.

Jerry Rice playing for the San Francisco 49ers.

Jerry Rice playing for the San Francisco 49ers. Getty Images/David Madison/Jerry Rice

Rice’s former 49ers head coach, Bill Walsh, claims the club did not inflate his numbers during his tenure in San Francisco.

“Some teams will assist receivers by passing to them whenever they are near the end zone,” Walsh added. “That is not something we do. Every touchdown Jerry has scored has been earned” (Pro Football Hall of Fame).

Unless Walsh was lying to protect Rice’s legacy (not that such a legacy has to be preserved), it’s about as personal a response as you can get. The team’s head coach would be the best person to ask about the 49ers’ penchant for over-targeting Rice in the end zone.

In today’s NFL, stat padding for wide receivers has become all too prevalent.

NFL wide receivers, particularly star players, are seeing more and more targets on a per-game basis as the game moves away from being a run-first sport. Many top high school athletes are prioritizing mastering the position of wide receiver since it is rapidly becoming the most glamorous position to play.

A swarm of receivers were selected in the first round in each of the two most recent NFL drafts.

DeVonta Smith, Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, Jalen Reagor, Jaylen Waddle, Ja’Marr Chase, Kadarius Toney, Rashod Bateman Young WR potential abounds in the league, with players eager to see as many targets as possible down in the end zone.

NFL clubs, for the most part, engage in this practice. During his first season, Jefferson, for example, saw 125 targets. This was a top-20 total in all of football.

Were the Minnesota Vikings intentionally over-targeting their new wide receiver? Perhaps, but perhaps not. However, it’s difficult to overlook how much the game has evolved since Rice was receiving passes.

Jerry Rice’s Hall of Fame career seems to have gotten even better.

Jerry Rice has 185 receptions, 2,509 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns after turning 40.

After reaching 40, all other players in NFL history had combined for 2 receptions and 4 receiving yards (catches by Tom Brady and Brett Favre). https://t.co/yiy3rHovLK

April 11, 2021 — Field Yates (@FieldYates)

Rice’s statistics in the 1980s and 1990s are even more remarkable in retrospect than they were at the time.

Like some of today’s receivers, he didn’t have the luxury of being over-targeted. Rice, on the other hand, was so excellent that he was wide open the bulk of the time, particularly in the end zone.

Rice led the NFL in receiving touchdowns six times throughout his 16-year career with the 49ers, demonstrating his scoring prowess.

Rice, who was 40 at the time, was still preparing opposition defensive backs. Was it intentional for the Raiders to go after a 40-year-old Rice who was nearing the end of his NFL career? Most likely not.

Pro Football Reference provided all stats.

RELATED: This Former NFL Wide Receiver Believes Jimmy Garoppolo Gives the 49ers a Better Chance to Beat Trey Lance

Larry David is known for his sarcastic humor, but his oddest quips are his questions. Last night, after the New York Jets beat the New England Patriots, the actor asked the post-game show, “Was it Jerry? He’s always right.” A few minutes later, David tweeted, “I thought the Jets were bad, but the Patriots are that bad.”. Read more about when did jerry rice retire and let us know what you think.

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