Calvin Johnson had a historic day on Sunday. If you hadn't heard, it's more historic than you initially heard. Flipper Anderson's 336 yard game in 1989 was an OT game. Calvin has the 60 minute honor.
In light of Calvin's phenomenal achievement it's been a day of the over the top and gushing rhetoric. More specifically, it's been a discussion that's reached its highest volume yet that Calvin Johnson is the greatest receiver in NFL history. He's certainly the best in the game right now.
My response to the debate, uh...no. Probably not even close. At all.
If you stand behind Michael Jordan as the greatest to ever play in the NBA, and I do, then there's ZERO way you can assert Calvin is the best ever.
Michael Jordan was a shade under the average sized player in the league for the duration of his career.
Wilt Chamberlain is on the other side of the greatest-in-the-NBA debate. With the exception of Bill Russell and some others, Wilt towered over most of his competition. He was physically imposing force that wouldn't been seen again regularly in the league for years and years. I loathe having to link to BR, but here's a solid painting of the picture back in Wilt's day.
If Chamberlain was the average size of players of his era, would he have been as dominate as he was, and as Jordan manhandled the game? Eh, unlikely. Size counts.
You probably see where I'm going with this.
I'm not going to stick a finger out at you and admonish you with with the IT'S A PASSING LEAGUE THESE DAYS cliche. Well, because it's too cliche and you and your fantasy team know it. Calvin's transcendental, but there's no denying his numbers ARE somewhat inflated by the present era.
I could argue that the Megatron nickname actually isn't appropriate enough. Megatron is far too small to describe Calvin's physical advantages over many of those who attempt to defend him. How about, Metroplex, or Omega Supreme. Wait, you want a Decepticon? Ok, then Unicron, an entity that strikes fear to all in the universe. He ate planets. Calvin eats corners and safeties.
Johnson, to remind you, is 6'5" 236 lbs.
Jerry Rice was (he probably still is) was 6'2" 200 lbs.
Rice did what Calvin's doing without the physical advantages. I don't know how use see it, but size is an important component when I'm measuring in debates such as this.
In an earlier blog, I'd wondered if the Lions would've even required another, typical Cowboys meltdown if Calvin hadn't had two key misplays - a ball that bounced off his hands for an INT, and a fumble. Both were in Dallas territory. That's potentially up to 14 points, maybe a guaranteed two scores if you'd seen the Dallas defense getting gored for what was to be 600 yards. Detroit would've enjoyed the comfortable lead, not Dallas.
I'm sure Rice had his share of flubs, but it seems Calvin's missed some catches this year I'd expect someone of his acclaim to make. He has 4 drops, and a miniscule 5.1 drop percentage. Not bad at all.
Drops are a subjective stat and I can't even uncover them for when Rice played. Let's use fumbles.
303 career games. 11 lost fumbles, out of 18 overall. He lost a ball once every 27.5 games
In 99 games for Calvin, he's fumbled 13 times and lost 9 of them. One every 9 games.
HOLD UP. Transparency alert! There's some glaring differences between ESPN and Pro Football Ref. for Rice. PFR has Rice down for 27 fumbles! If that's accurate, then he'd fumble once every 11 games. Much closer to the Calvin number.
When Calvin's healthy, Calvin's unstoppable. His size, speed, and strength, paired with the restrictions on defensive players and ADvantages that gives so many offenses, Calvin could continue his assault on Rice's records.
If the Darrell Greens, Deions, Leroy Butlers, and Steve Atwaters of the 90s, had to adhere to contemporary rules, Rice might have put up 2,500 yards a year, annually.
Rice, for me, was and is still, the greatest receiver in NFL history.
Now if you wanna have a much more intricate debate, then ask me if Calvin is, or will wind up as the SECOND greatest receiver in the game's history.