Hall of Famer Jerry Rice is well regarded as being arguably the greatest wide receiver in NFL history, along with one of the best players to play the game. Rice‘s reputation is iron clad strong as his incredible work ethic, along with his skill on the field on further cemented his status as an all-time great behind his illustrious career. However, he had an interesting admission about his playing days that he used the illegal substance called stickum on his gloves.
Jerry Rice’s illustrious career
Throughout his two decades in the league, Rice became the gold standard at his position behind his impressive production.
Rice put up seemingly unmatched numbers during that span that led to him setting untouchable NFL records with 22,895 career receiving yards along with 1,549 receptions and 197 touchdown catches. His 207 total touchdowns, along with 23,546 career all-purpose yards, are also marks that may never be broken.
Rice has many NFL records to his name that only further speak to his incredible impact on the game and where he ranks all-time beyond just his position. He was also a three-time Super Bowl champion, 13-time Pro Bowler, 10-time First-Team All-Pro selection, and two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year award winner.
The production that Rice put forward didn’t waver as he moved through this career as he has an NFL record 14 seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards. However, Rice did have one somewhat surprising admission years into retirement about what used to do during his playing days.
Jerry Rice admits to cheating using stickum
Rice has an incredibly strong reputation that was fueled by his impressive consistency throughout his career that made him a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Despite that, he did have an interesting confession back in 2015 as he admitted that he used the illegal spray substance called stickum on his gloves. (H/T Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk)
“I know this might be a little illegal, guys, but you put a little spray, a little stickum on them, to make sure that texture is a little sticky,” Rice said with a laugh as part of an ESPN feature regarding the evolution of gloves.
Stickum was a sticky substance that many players had used to gain extra traction on their hands for catching or gripping the ball. The use of the product was banned by the NFL back in 1981 and had become effective known as the “Lester Hayes rule” as it was wide-spread known that the former Oakland Raiders defensive back used it.
The fact that Rice has openly talked about using the product does bring questions to the legitimacy of his various NFL records. He had also mentioned that all players during his time in the league were using the substance to which that immediately shot down by fellow Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Michael Irvin.
Does this damage Jerry Rice’s reputation?
Rice’s admission about using the product well after it was banned does bring up some questions.
He had knowingly utilized a product was provided him an illegal upper hand with catching the ball. There is no known extent to how much he used it, but it’s hard to gauge how much it impacted his performance on the field.
In the years that have passed since that admission, Rice’s reputation has remained largely the same as he’s still regarded as the greatest wide receiver in league history. There hasn’t been any asterisk placed by his NFL records in any manner.
It’s hard to separate how much of his production was impacted by the substance. Ultimately, it’s a situation that may never truly hurt his reputation and image as he’s still held in extremely high regard by his peers past and present.