Best All-Time Professional Football Wide Receiver

Before we can start talking about the greatest receiver ever, let's eliminate some of the pretenders and contenders.

Randy Moss:
Moss is the biggest talent in the game, and when he wants to be, he can be the most dangerous offensive weapon. He just does not want to be often enough to merit consideration as the best ever.

Steve Largent:
Tremendous hands, excellent route runner, and for all his limitations, was enormously productive. But he was essentially a possession guy. A great possession guy, a Hall-of-Famer, but he would not throw the fear of God into opposing defenses.

Lance Alworth:
I haven't seen much of him, but you listen to the old-timers speak of him, and it's hard not to notice the awe in their voices. They speak not only of his speed and athleticism, but the sheer grace and the impact he had on games. He averaged almost nineteen yards per catch. That is a number of an explosive playmaker. The other numbers are so impressive, but he played prior the late-70's rule changes which opened up the passing game. The first player from the AFL to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Maybe just a whisker away from being the best ever.

Randy Moss.
Randy Moss with Tom Brady and Jabar Gaffney after throwing for record 50th td against NY Giants. Thanks to for the picture.

Cris Carter:
Not an easy person to like, there still are those who say he has the best hands of anybody I'll name, and that's saying a lot. Second among receivers in TDs, he set the record for catches in a season, which was later broken. He was also productive with a variety of different QBs throwing to him. Just barely on the outside of being considered the greatest ever.

Lynn Swann:
His numbers don't stack up, but his combination of speed, unbelievable body control and hands merit him a mention. Also, played his best in the playoff and Super Bowl, when great competitors really shine.

Michael Irvin:
Yes, he was hugely competetive and productive, but it's hard for me to put into a consideration a guy who made a career out of finding ways to push off and not get called for it. (By the way, this isn't just my opinion. I've read the same thing in quotes from NFL scouts.)

Michael Irvin.
Michael Irvin. Thanks to Lobberich at for the picture.

So if none of these outstanding receivers are not the best ever, who is?

It's Jerry Rice. How can it not be? He holds the NFL records for receptions, receiving yards, and receiving TDs. He could beat you deep, he could go over the middle. He was outstanding in the clutch, and he was an effective blocker. He would get you the first down you needed on third and long, not just once or twice a game, but on a regular basis. He was consistent, and he was as tough as any receiver who ever played. He could take a hit from a speeding bullet and hang onto the ball. He played some of his best games in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. I'm sure there are those who will say he was a system receiver, but if the system was what made him, how is it the system did not make another Jerry Rice, or at least someone close to his productivity? As great as the others are, the answer to the question: Who is the best wide receiver ever?

Has to be Jerry Rice; greatest professional football wide receiver in the history of the game. Bar none.

NFL legend Jerry Rice.
NFL legend Jerry Rice at CTIA Wireless in Las Vegas.
Thanks to Glenn's at for the picture.

Check out our NFL All-Time Team; you'll find Jerry Rice there.

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