In the grand scheme of things, you don't have to look too far back in the history of the NFL to find a time where former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice was considered to be the greatest player to ever step on a football field. Back in 2010, the NFL Network ranked all of the league's players on an all-time list and had Rice landing at the No. 1 spot. While Rice certainly still is the greatest receiver the league has ever seen, times have changed in the GOAT debate over the last decade.
Since that ranking was released, Tom Brady (who was listed at No. 21 back in 2010) has only added to what was already a Hall of Fame résumé. Over the last decade, the now 43-year-old quarterback has added four more Super Bowl titles to his name, giving him a total of seven. Those Super Bowls not only eclipse what any player has been able to do over their career, but no franchise has ever won that many. This win over the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV further put an exclamation point on Brady's GOAT status. Winning it all in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- and away from Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots -- showed he's still more than capable away from the all-time head coach and his former franchise.
Not only does Brady have the championships to cease any other GOAT debates at this point, but he's also the winningest quarterback in league history, with 230 career wins to his name (and counting). He's also thrown the most touchdowns all time and will likely pass Drew Brees next season for the most passing yards thrown all time.
With all that in Brady's favor, the once clear-cut case for Jerry Rice appears to have dissolved, which the 49ers legend recently acknowledged. That said, Rice, who spoke to 95.7 The Game on Monday, does hold firm that he played in a much more physical era than Brady.
"I don't have seven Super Bowl rings, but I think I played in an era when football was more of a contact sport. You're seeing a lot of that now -- players are protected," Rice said, via Pro Football Talk. "When you have seven rings, you're doing something right. I think with Brady, he still wants to play. He said something about playing until he's 45. I think he can do it now in this league because players are so much more protected. So, yeah, he can have that GOAT status. I never wanted that status anyhow."
Again, this is not to take away from what Rice has done, but Brady has won at such a clip -- even prior to this latest Lombardi -- that it seems silly to put anyone above him anymore.
Meanwhile, Rice also saw Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski break the tie he and Joe Montana had with them for the most playoff touchdowns (12) by a QB-receiver duo after the Bucs combo connected on not one but two touchdowns en route to a 31-9 win in Super Bowl LV.