Measuring AB’s GOAT WR Status At 30

The statistical terror that is Pittsburgh Steelers' wide receiver Antonio Brown turns 30 today.

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The statistical terror that is Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Antonio Brown turns 30 today.

As he enters the ninth year of his illustrious career, his body of work is comparable to the top receivers to ever play in the NFL. Brown holds the NFL record for catches in consecutive seasons and last season Brown set an NFL record in Week 15 by recording his 100th catch of the year, making him the first person in league history to reach the mark in five straight seasons. 

Theres no arguing his greatness.

Over the last five seasons, Brown basically stands alone as the best receiver in the NFL. People can argue about Julio Jones all they want, but just look at what AB has done.


2013            110 catches for 1,499 yards and 8 TDs

2014            129 catches for 1,698 yards and 13 TDs

2015            136 catches for 1,834 yards and 10 TDs

2016            106 catches for 1,284 yards and 12 TDs

2017            101  catches for 1,533 yards and 9 TDs 


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Antonio Brown was once again one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL in 2017.

 That’s 582 catches for 7,848 yards and 52 TDs over the last five seasons.

 During that same span, Julio Jones has amassed just 6,897 yards receiving and 25 TDs on 452 catches. 

NFL fans still seem split on which receiver is No. 1 in the game, but Browns been statistically superior, healthier and more clutch over the past years. He has started to separate from all of his peers. So at this point, he can be considered The GOHT (Greatest of His Time) but I dont think we put Brown on a level with Jerry Rice or Randy Moss quite yet. Hes getting there. He certainly has the diva attitude, proclivity for sideline tantrums and questionable decision making that some past great receivers have shared.  

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This season hell more than likely become the second quickest receiver to 10,000 yards in NFL history, needing only 90 yards on September ninth when the Steelers open up against the lonely Cleveland Browns to eclipse the mark in 116 games. 

The current record holder is retired soldier Megatron, Calvin Johnson, who reached the 10,000-yard plateau in the 115th game of his career.

The numbers are mind-boggling and Brown is still catching bodies even though hes on the other side of 30 now. He’s been closing in on Rice in the minds of some football fans since 2014. 

From my piece in 2014,  “Steelers Wide Receiver Antonio Brown Is the Jerry Rice of This Generation? “

“Diminutive cats from small-time universities with huge hearts and bigger dreams have carved out fairytale NFL legacies and been the living athletic examples of the phrase, anythings possible.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers spent a low-risk, sixth-round pick on a speedy, undersized wide receiver named Antonio Brown back in 2010, its safe to say that no one actually expected him to have his first 1,000 yard season by 2011 (1,108) as Ben Roethlisbergers secondary target to Mike Wallace in Pittsburghs aerial attack.

If that wasnt successful enough for an unheralded baller from Central Michigan after Wallace took his talents to South Beach, Brown became the Steelers No. 1 wide receiver and hes been hurdling his NFL peers with each dynamic performance.”

Brown has been getting his props and rightfully so, but Jerry Rice played 21 seasons and amassed 22,895 yards. 

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Antonio Brown at 30: What’s next for NFL’s most prolific receiver? Anything feels possible https://t.co/8XfiDrnUs8

In all likelihood, Brown wont play that long in this eras NFL, hes not surpassing Rices receiving numbers and he doesnt catch TDs at the rate of Rice or Moss. Rice has 197 receiving and 10 more rushing. 

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If Rice and Moss are the two best to ever do it, then Brown falls a cut below right now, in the highly respectable next level with the guy he is about to tie Torry Holt, who played 10 seasons with the Rams from 1999 to 2009, and finished off his career with one year in Jacksonville. Twice topping 1500 receiving yards in a single season, he reached 10,000 total receiving yards in his 116th game.

An even better comparison would be Lance Alworth, the great Chargers wide receiver of the 60s, who was the fastest player to reach 9000 yards by a comfortable margin, the only to do so in under 100 games. 

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Antonio Brown has tied an NFL record for the most games with at least five catches and 50 receiving yards in the first eight years of a career (Torry Holt: 78).

And these guys broke records during eras where the running game figured much more prominently into the game plan. Brown has accumulated his stats in a pass-happy NFL where passing and receiving numbers are inflated and a running back must be able to catch passes to play. 

At this moment, Brown is on top of his game. Hes a game changer, a receiver that opposing defenses game plan for and he has no equals, but the wide receiver position in the NFL is deep and plentiful with amazing superstars and game-breaking, record-setting talents. Ascending to the top of that list will take at least another half-decade worth of work from Ben Roethlisberger’s No.1 weapon. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The Deputy Editor and Senior Writer is in his 23rd year of covering sports and culture professionally. He began working in major newspapers in 1995 and has covered a cornucopia of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, magazines and national TV.

Gamble has covered World Series, Super Bowls, NBA and MLB All-Star Games, Final Fours, World Cup, NASCAR events and done hundreds of exclusive interviews over the years. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.