No fancy or convoluted intro this time, just G.O.A.T. series part 3 (WR edition).
10. Michael "The Playmaker" Irvin
Stats/Records: 750 Receptions (T-38th), 11,094 Receiving Yards (27th), 15.9 Yards per reception (T-121st), 74.9 Receiving yards per game (T-11th), 11,910 Yards from scrimmage (64th), 65 Receiving Touchdowns (T-57th), 11,910 All-purpose yards (101st), and 65 Total TDs (T-128th)
Awards: 5× Pro Bowler (1991–1995), First-Team All-Pro (1991), 2× Second-Team All-Pro (1992, 1993), NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, NFL Hall of Fame, and Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor
Championships: Three NFC Championships and Three Super Bowls (XXVII, XXVIII, and XXX)
"The Playmaker" was just that, the Cowboys play-making wide receiver during Dallas' great run in the 90's. Michael Irvin doesn't have the greatest stat line in the world, but a large part of that comes from playing with one of the best offenses in NFL history, along with one of the greatest running backs in the NFL, Emmitt Smith. Irvin still had an amazing career that was unfortunately cut short by a career ending injury, and earns a place on this list because he could do it all whenever it was needed.
9. Larry "Sticky Fingers" Fitzgerald
Stats/Records: 1,234 Receptions (3rd), 15,545 Receiving Yards (3rd), 12.6 Yards per reception (Outside of the top 250), 71.3 Receiving yards per game (21st), 15,613 Yards from scrimmage (14th), 110 Receiving Touchdowns (8th), 15,613 All-purpose yards (25th), and 110 Total TDs (17th)
Awards: 11× Pro Bowler (2005, 2007–2013, 2015–2017), First-team All-Pro (2008), 2× Second-team All-Pro (2009, 2011), and Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (2016)
Championships: One NFC Championship
Fitz is the best active (as of writing this) wide receiver in the NFL, and he finds a way to prove it regardless of who's playing on the team around him. Much like a former teammate of his from the running back list, a large part of Fitzgerald's success comes from sheer volume. There is a reason that Fitzgerald has such a high volume of receptions, receiving yards, and TDs; he is that big, that strong, and that good.
8. Cris "CC" Carter
Stats/Records: 1,101 Receptions (6th), 13,899 Receiving Yards (13th), 12.6 Yards per reception (Outside of the top 250), 59.4 Receiving yards per game (69th), 13,940 Yards from scrimmage (36th), 130 Receiving Touchdowns (4th), 14,184 All-purpose yards (50th), and 131 Total TDs (8th)
Awards: 8× Pro Bowler (1993–2000), 2× First-team All-Pro (1994, 1999), Second-team All-Pro (1995), Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (1999), NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, NFL Hall of Fame, Minnesota Vikings No. 80 retired, and Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor
Championships: None at the professional level
I'm beginning to sense a trend with this volume receivers, but CC still has the numbers to be one of the greats. He caught passes and scored TDs, which are the two main things you need in a wide receiver. Carter wasn't the game breaker like his teammate Randy Moss, but his ability to be a reliable pass catcher anywhere on the field (and especially in goal-line situations) makes him number eight on this list.
7. "Marvelous" Marvin Harrison
Stats/Records: 1,102 Receptions (5th), 14,580 Receiving Yards (9th), 13.2 Yards per reception (Outside of the top 250), 76.7 Receiving yards per game (8th), 14,608 Yards from scrimmage (27th), 128 Receiving Touchdowns (5th), 14,805 All-purpose yards (40th), and 128 Total TDs (9th) NFL Record for most receptions in a single season with 143 (2002) and most consecutive seasons of 1,000+ all-purpose yards and 10+ touchdown receptions (8), from 1999–2006
Awards: 8× Pro Bowler (1999–2006), 3× First-team All-Pro (1999, 2002, 2006). 5× Second-team All-Pro (2000, 2001, 2003–2005), NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, NFL Hall of Fame, and Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor
Championships: One AFC Championship and One Super Bowl
"Marvelous Marvin" is a weird one to judge because he has amazing statistics, but there are plenty of things against him. The two biggest things that led to him being number seven, instead of top five, are the fact that his numbers are, arguably, more of a product of playing his most successful years with Peyton Manning than actual talent and the fact that he was not a great postseason receiver, having only one 100-yard game in 16 appearances. Regardless of whether Manning made Harrison great, or Harrison made Manning better, the stats and the reception record still warrant a place this high on the list.
6. Steve "Yoda" Largent
Awards: 7× Pro Bowler (1978, 1979, 1981, 1984–1987), 3× First-team All-Pro (1983, 1985, 1987), 4× Second-team All-Pro (1978, 1979, 1984, 1986), NFL Man of the Year (1988), NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, NFL Hall of Fame, Seahawks Ring of Honor, and Seattle Seahawks No. 80 retired
Championships: None at the professional level.
Yoda (yeah, that was his actual nickname) was putting up numbers that most receivers would love to have, and he was doing while most of the receivers on this list were kids. He was capable of dominating the league as a wide receiver before teams started to really rely on the pass over the run. Steve Largent was the successor of the first true game-changing wide receiver, Charlie Joiner, and shattered Joiner's records, making Largent the most dominant receiver pre-1990s.
5. Calvin "Megatron" Johnson Jr.
Stats/Records: 731 Receptions (44th), 11,619 Receiving Yards (29th), 15.9 Yards per reception (T-121st), 86.1 Receiving yards per game (4th), 11,786 Yards from scrimmage (67th), 83 Receiving Touchdowns (22nd), 11,787 All-purpose yards (104th), 84 Total TDs (50th), and NFL record 1,964 receiving yards in a season (2012)
Awards: 6× Pro Bowler (2010–2015), 3× First-team All-Pro (2011–2013), and Second-team All-Pro (2010)
Championships: None at the professional level.
Megatron's overall statistics may not be as impressive as others on this list, but for nine seasons he was nearly unstoppable. His early retirement may leave him out of the Hall of Fame, but he was physically gifted and statistically one of the best to ever play the position. He played on some awful teams (including one of only two teams to ever go 0-16) but managed to always be great.
4. Terrell Owens aka "T.O."
Awards: 6× Pro Bowl (2000–2004, 2007), 5× First-team All-Pro (2000–2002, 2004, 2007), and NFL 2000s All-Decade Second Team
Championships: One NFC Championship
The man that Skip Bayless affectionately refers to as "team obliterator," T.O. has always been a controversial figure in the cities he has played for, but his talent kept landing him job after job. Terrell Owens had all the talent a receiver could ask for, and no one knew that better than him. Owens is the not only the only player to score a TD against all 32 teams in the NFL, but he scored multiple TDs against all 32 teams, which shows just how good he was.
3. Don "The Alabama Antelope" Hutson
Stats/Records: 488 Receptions (153rd), 7,991 Receiving Yards (96th), 16.4 Yards per reception (T-84th), 68.9 Receiving yards per game (26th), 8,275 Yards from scrimmage (184th), 99 Receiving Touchdowns (11th), 8,709 All-purpose yards (235th), 103 Total TDs (21st), and NFL record for points scored in a quarter (29) and touchdowns scored in a quarter (4)
Awards: 4× NFL All-Star (1939–1942), 8× First-team All-Pro (1938–1945), 2× NFL Most Valuable Player (1941, 1942), NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL 1930s All-Decade Team, NFL Hall of Fame, Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, and Green Bay Packers No. 14 retired
Championships: Three NFL Championships (1936, 1939, and 1944)
Some of the men on this list innovated the wide receiver position, but Hutson originated the position. Hutson changed the course of football history by taking the split end position and turning it into the wide receiver position. The numbers are not quite what all the players that have followed were able to generate, but the Alabama Antelope deserves credit for inventing this position and blazing the trail for everyone else.
2. Randy "Freak" Moss
Stats/Records: 982 Receptions (15th), 15,292 Receiving Yards (4th), 15.6 Yards per reception (T-138th), 70.1 Receiving yards per game (24th), 15,451 Yards from scrimmage (16th), 156 Receiving Touchdowns (2nd), 15,644 All-purpose yards (24th), 157 Total TDs (4th), and NFL records for receiving touchdowns in a season (23) and for receiving touchdowns in a rookie season (17)
Awards: 6× Pro Bowler (1998–2000, 2002, 2003, 2007), 4× First-team All-Pro (1998, 2000, 2003, 2007), NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (1998), Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor, and NFL 2000s All-Decade Team
Championships: One AFC Championship and One NFC Championship
The Freak was just physically special, hence the nickname, and used his size, strength, and speed to dominate the league. His ability to jump over people and catch passes literally led to the invention of the phrase "getting Mossed," which is one of the most disrespectful to catch a pass on someone. Moss was amazing at scoring the football because of his physical gifts, and the way he played the game has led to the way most present-day receivers play the position (basically fade routes).
"Mr. Raider" Tim Brown—An amazing wide receiver, who played 16 seasons for the Oakland Raiders, that just had a slow start to his career, which kept him from making the list.
Lance "Bambi" Alworth—The original game breaker, Alworth was a big play machine who could take over any game, but there's a difference between being capable and actually doing it.
Quintorris "Julio" Jones—Julio is basically a lankier, faster Randy Moss with slightly worse hands, but he sometimes makes mistakes that cost the Falcons wins. Once his career is done, we will get a better understanding of his place in history.
Antonio "Ronald Ocean (seriously)" Brown—Mr. Ocean (such a dumb nickname) is the yin to Julio's yang. Brown is smaller, but more consistent and dominate than Jones. Just like with Julio, there is so much time left in Brown's career to know how great he'll be.
1. Jerry "Flash 80" Rice
Stats/Records: 1,549 Receptions (1st), 22,895 Receiving Yards (1st), 14.8 Yards per reception (T-207th), 75.6 Receiving yards per game (9th), 23,540 Yards from scrimmage (1st), 197 Receiving Touchdowns (1st), 23,546 All-purpose yards (1st), 208 Total TDs (1st), and NFL records for... well just look at the stats and those are the records.
Awards: 13× Pro Bowler (1986–1996, 1998, 2002), 10× First-team All-Pro (1986–1990, 1992–1996), 2× Second-team All-Pro (1991, 2002), Bert Bell Award (1987), 2× NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1987, 1993), NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, NFL Hall of Fame, and San Francisco 49ers No. 80 retired
Championships: One AFC Championship, Three NFC Championships, Three Super Bowl championships (XXIII, XXIV, XXIX), and One Super Bowl MVP (XXIII)
Flash 80 is simply the best wide receiver in the history of football. You can argue that a large part of his statistical success is because of the teams he's played on, his longevity, or the era he played in, but the gap between him and everyone else is just to big for any of those arguments to hold water, especially given his work ethic and desire to be the best, which is the only thing that actually ended his career. Rice is the G.O.A.T., and it's not even close.
All data was pulled from profootballreference.com, NFL.com, and Profootballhof.com