Where have all the receivers gone?


If you’re a regular to Profootballhof.com during the NFL season, you know that every Tuesday is the day that we update the Weekly Top 20. Over the years, we’ve thought about doing away with this feature and one time actually stopped publishing the lists, albeit briefly. The outcry from fans (and members of the media) demanded that we continue the feature.

The concept of the Top 20 began in the late 1960s as part of a fairly significant exhibit in the museum. With the debut of our presence on the web in the mid-1990s, the Top 20 lists co-existed electronically as well as in a display for visitors in Canton. Shortly thereafter the display was dismantled while the lists continue to live on through our website.

A quick perusal of the Top 20 career leaders in passing, receiving, rushing, and scoring shows a nice mix of Hall of Famers and past greats as well as a significant number of NFL stars active during the first two weekends of the 2009 season.

But, a closer look at the Top 20 lists, at least the receivers list, is a great illustration of just how the game has changed. If you look at the Top 20 rushers, you still see the names like Payton, Simpson, and Brown.

In stark contrast, the names of players like Raymond Berry, Don Hutson, Don Maynard, and others are noticeably missing from the career receiving leaders. In fact, just two of the 20 modern-era wide receivers enshrined in Canton still rank in the Top 20.

The passing game has clearly evolved over the years. This gives credence to my argument that I often state that simply states it’s difficult to compare players from different eras because the game has changed so much. How can you compare Jerry Rice to Don Hutson? You really can’t unless you go by something other than stats.

But, you can compare Rice to Cris Carter, Andre Reed, and Tim Brown among others. All four of these wideouts are preliminary nominees for the Class of 2010 that we announced last Saturday.

Thanks to our friends at JCPenney and Van Heusen, the fan now has a forum to share his/her opinions. You can join the debate at jcp.com/fans.

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