Max Kellerman has had a rough week on First Take. Not only did he inexplicably try and say that Kawhi Leonard is better under pressure than the legendary Kobe Bryant, he also threw in that Larry Fitzgerald “might” make the NFL Hall of Fame solely due to acquiring statistics over the course of a long career.
Not only was Max Kellerman embarrassingly wrong, but he’d also have been less crazy to make the assertion that Larry Fitzgerald is the greatest wide receiver to ever put on pads.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the “Larry Fitzgerald is the G.O.A.T” camp. Not yet, anyway.
The best wide receiver I’ve ever seen play the in the NFL was Jerry Rice. The most talented, by a mile, was Randy Moss. It’s fun to debate who had the more dominant season, Jerry Rice in 1995 with his 122 catches and 1,848 yards, or Randy Moss in 2007 with his eight multi-touchdown games en route to an undefeated regular season. The overall edge goes to Rice, however, because no receiver in history has dominated three different Super Bowls.
After Rice and Moss, it gets a little murky. On my personal list, I have Larry Fitzgerald entrenched just ahead of Terrell Owens, Cris Carter, and Tim Brown.
Could you make the argument that Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver of all time? Absolutely. Let’s go through his credentials:
Larry Fitzgerald Hall of Fame Stats
- Second all-time in receiving yards, and sixth all-time in receiving touchdowns.
- Had an NFL playoff record 546 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in the 2008 Super Bowl run.
- Has 97 more catches than Jerry Rice did after 15 seasons in the league.
- One of 28 NFL players to be selected to at least 11 Pro Bowls, 25 of whom are already enshrined in Canton (The others are Tom Brady and Drew Brees).
- And perhaps most importantly, Larry Fitzgerald has the highest +/- of personal Pro Bowl selections vs. Quarterback Pro Bowl selections of any wide receiver in NFL History. In his 15 seasons, Fitzgerald has been a Pro Bowler nine times despite having only two seasons with a Pro Bowl QB- Kurt Warner in 2008, and Carson Palmer in 2015.
Jerry Rice had the benefit of playing with Joe Montana and Steve Young and had the most seasons in NFL history of any WR paired with a Pro Bowl QB, at 14.
Reggie Wayne spent 12 of his seasons with a Pro Bowl QB. Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison had nine seasons apiece with a Pro Bowl QB. Randy Moss, Michael Irvin, Cris Carter, Torry Holt, and Andre Reed all had six seasons with a Pro Bowl QB. Isaac Bruce, Antonio Brown and Rod Smith had five. Tim Brown had four. Only Hines Ward and Andre Johnson can claim that they reached 1,000 career receptions with as few Pro Bowl seasons out of their quarterbacks as Larry Fitzgerald.
Knowing that Larry Fitzgerald already has more catches than Jerry Rice did at this point in his career, what do we think Larry would have accomplished by this point if you inserted him onto the 1980s and 90’s San Francisco 49ers in place of Rice? In my mind, there’s no doubt Larry Fitzgerald’s name would be synonymous with Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams, as one of the most dominant athletes, regardless of sport, in the history of planet earth.
Fitzgerald may be the G.O.A.T
As it stands now, an argument can be made that Larry Fitzgerald is the best ever, especially considering that he amassed his statistics and accolades despite quarterbacks not named Kurt Warner or Carson Palmer throwing for a total of 121 touchdowns and 160 interceptions in an Arizona Cardinals uniform since he entered the league.