Jerry Rice says Calvin Johnson is "without a doubt" the best receiver in today's game

Posted Jan 30, 2013

Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice praises Calvin Johnson's work ethic and forecasts the Detroit Lions' Pro Bowler will be among the all-time greats when his career is said and done

New Orleans - There's been a lot of talk down at the Super Bowl this week about whom the NFL's best receiver of all time is.

Current 49ers receiver Randy Moss started the debate at Media Day on Tuesday when he proclaimed he was the best pass catcher to ever play the game.

Jerry Rice, who owns most of the NFL's receiving records, begged to differ later in the day, saying his numbers and records don't lie.

Where will Calvin Johnson fit into this equation someday? Will we be talking about Megatron in the same light in a half dozen years or so?

Rice thinks so.

"Give the guy a chance to develop and grow, but if he continues to play ball the way he's doing, I'm sure he's going to be put up there with the best," Rice said at the Super Bowl on Wednesday.

"This guy is gifted but he also has the work ethic. A lot of guys are gifted but they don't want to sacrifice and put the time in and he's willing to do that. At the same time it doesn't go to his head. That's why I'm saying he's only going to get better with that kind of attitude."

Johnson would have been in the NFL Most Valuable Player conversation, according to Rice, if the Detroit Lions had one more than four games this season, considering Johnson broke Rice's single-season receiving record with 1,964 yards. He also had 122 catches and five touchdowns.

"I think if he had a winning season, he would have been in the most valuable player race," said Rice "When you are not having a winning season, teams are going to play you differently.

"Talent wise, one of the best receivers I have seen in a long time that's big, fast, can out-jump you, that's not afraid to go across the middle. So all the tools are there.

"It's just now surrounding this guy with players that are going to take some pressure off him. And Matthew Stafford, giving him an offensive line where he has time to stand back there, throw the football, but you never want to try and knock down a record or something like that.

"I think it was great for him to be able to break the record, to do all of that, even though they didn't have a winning season."

Johnson still has about 10,000 yards and 100 touchdowns to go before he gets into the conversations that include Rice and Moss as one of the all-time greats, but Rice has no doubt who the games current top receiver is.

"Without a doubt, he's the best receiver in the league right now," Rice said. "I think this guy is going to be around a long time. He has a good work ethic, a good head on his shoulders, and he's going to try to bring it every year. I expect him to be around a long time."