To me, Jerry Rice is the greatest tight end of all time. He made his mark on the NFL in the 1990s as a rookie, and his career highlight reel is filled with hundreds of touchdowns. He’s the only player to ever win the NFL’s best player award three times. He’s the record holder for career receiving yards. He’s the all-time leader in receiving touchdowns. He’s the all-time receptions leader. He’s the all-time leader in receiving yards. He’s the all-time leader in receiving touchdowns. And he’s the all-time leader in season receiving touchdowns. He’s also the all-time leader in postseason receiving touchdowns. That’s right, he’s the all-time leader in receiving touchdowns
In 17 NFL seasons, Jerry Rice has played in 901 games. The Hall of Fame wide receiver has, at times, been unstoppable—in 1999, he set an NFL record for most catches in a single season. (That same year, he set a record by scoring a touchdown in every game during the season.) But Rice was also notorious for taking plays off during the game.
Over the past week, the NFL has begun its first-ever 17-game regular season. If you think this is incredible, consider that the last time an NFL team played 17 games was in 1978. In all, eight players on NFL rosters have played in at least 17 games so far this season.
Hundreds of NFL players will be able to brag about playing a 17-game regular season in around six months, provided the 2021 NFL season goes off without a hitch. But did you know that eight players have previously completed such a season, including Hall of Famer and three-time Super Bowl winner Jerry Rice?
How is it feasible, though? It’s really very simple.
To be honest, it’s not simple at all since these eight guys had to play 17 games in a 16-game regular season, and the timing had to be perfect. As you may have guessed, each of these players played for two separate teams during the same season, and they had to leave their first team before their bye week, join their second team before their bye week, and not miss a single week for either. Isn’t it a little tricky?
So, as the NFL prepares for its first official 17-game regular season, let’s take a look at the eight players who have previously done so.
Chris Singleton played for the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins in 1993.
Linebacker Chris Singleton, who was selected eighth overall in the 1990 NFL draft out of Arizona by the New England Patriots, was the first to accomplish the accomplishment. Singleton was released by Bill Parcells after eight games in 1993, the NFL’s only two-bye season in history, and was immediately picked up by the Miami Dolphins, who had only played seven games at the time.
Singleton divided his time between defense and special teams, appearing in all nine of the Dolphins’ remaining games, making him the first player in NFL history to play a 17-game regular season and the first (and, for the time being, only) player to play 17 consecutive games.
Dexter Carter played for the New York Jets and the San Francisco 49ers in 1995.
The San Francisco 49ers selected running back Dexter Carter with the 25th overall selection in the 1990 NFL draft, 17 places behind Singleton, as a potential successor for three-time Super Bowl champion Roger Craig. Following the 1994 season, Carter signed a three-year contract with the New York Jets after helping the Niners win Super Bowl 29 as a kick returner.
But his time in the Big Apple (actually, New Jersey) was short-lived, as he struggled to keep hold of the football and was cut after just ten games. The 49ers, who still had seven games remaining on their schedule, happened to have a place for him and welcomed him back to the Bay Area.
Jerry Rice was a member of the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks in 2004.
In January 2020, Jerry Rice watches an NFL playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings | Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
It’s still impossible to imagine Jerry Rice in anything other than a 49ers jersey, but it happened. Rice signed with the Oakland Raiders before of the 2001 NFL season after 16 years with the Niners, and played three complete seasons with the silver and black.
Rice, who was 41 years old at the time, was dealt to the Seattle Seahawks after playing six games for the Raiders in 2004. He started nine games and caught 25 receptions for 362 yards and three touchdowns.
Micah Ross played for the San Diego Chargers and the Carolina Panthers in 2004.
Micah Ross appeared in 17 games during the 2004 season. Ross’ tale is really very interesting for people who are unfamiliar with him. He played basketball and football at Jacksonville University, then went on to play basketball in the USBL while continuing to coach JU’s football team.
Ross went undrafted in 1999 and played wide receiver and linebacker for the Jacksonville Tomcats in AF2, the Arena Football Division’s developmental league, before signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2001, becoming the first Jacksonville native to play for the team. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Ross signed with the San Diego Chargers in November 2003 after two and a half seasons with the Jaguars. He played seven games with the Chargers before being released and completed the year with the Carolina Panthers, where he would play his last ten games in the NFL.
Will Witherspoon: 2009, Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams
Will Witherspoon, a linebacker who was drafted 73rd overall by the Carolina Panthers out of Georgia in the 2002 NFL draft, played for four clubs over the course of his 12-year career and was the next to play 17 games.
Witherspoon was moved to the Philadelphia Eagles six games into the 2009 NFL season, his fourth with the St. Louis Rams, with whom he had 110 tackles and seven sacks in 2007 and was voted team MVP. He finished the year with the Philadelphia Eagles, collecting 58 tackles and one sack, before signing with the Tennessee Titans the next year.
Will Allen (Dallas Cowboys) and Pittsburgh Steelers (Pittsburgh Steelers) in 2013.
Will Allen, a former Ohio State star safety, spent three seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers after spending the first six seasons of his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys before of the 2013 season, however he only played in five games for “America’s Team” before being released. Fortunately for Allen, Mike Tomlin was willing to re-sign him, and he returned to the Steelers for the remaining 12 games of the season. He subsequently returned to Pittsburgh for two more seasons before retiring after the 2015 season.
Damon Harrison will play for the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions in 2018.
Damon Harrison, the lone offensive lineman on this list, appeared in 17 games for the New York Giants and Detroit Lions during the 2018 NFL season. Harrison went undrafted out of William Penn in 2012 and signed as a free agent with the New York Jets, where he spent four years until joining the Giants before of the 2016 season, where he was a First-Team All-Pro after collecting 86 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
Harrison was dealt to the Detroit Lions for a conditional 2019 fifth-round selection after playing in seven games with the Giants to open the 2018 season. He finished the year with the Lions, returned to Detroit for another season, and then appeared in only seven games for the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers in 2020. Harrison is currently searching for a club to play with in the 2021 NFL season as of this writing.
Emmanuel Sanders will play for the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers in 2019.
Last but not least, we have Emmanuel Sanders, a two-time Pro Bowl wideout who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before joining the Denver Broncos in 2014.
Sanders played five seasons in Denver, winning Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos, before being moved to the San Francisco 49ers seven games into the 2019 season. He participated in the Niners’ last ten regular-season games before appearing in three playoff games, including Super Bowl 54, which San Francisco lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. Sanders played in 23 games that season, including three preseason games, and his sole bye week was the week between the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl.
Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
RELATED: A Breakdown of the Strength of Schedule For All 32 Teams Heading Into the NFL’s First-Ever 17-Game Season in 2021
Has it really been 17 years since Jerry Rice became the first player in NFL history to record 1,000 receiving yards in a season? Yes, this week marks the 17th season of the NFL, and it’s the only one in which there were eight players who have already played a 17-game season. This is an incredible achievement, especially when you consider that when the NFL was founded in 1920, no players had ever played a 17-game regular season.. Read more about jerry rice stats and let us know what you think.
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