If production is the measuring stick for a wide receiver, few can measure up to Pro Football Hall-of-Fame semi-finalist Torry Holt.
“His first 10 years were the best in the history of the league of any receiver,’’ insists Mike Martz, Holt’s former coach and the designer of “The Greatest Show on Turf’’ that lifted Holt and the St. Louis Rams to record-breaking heights between 1999 and 2001. “How does that not get him in, in and of itself?’’
That’s a good question, one Hall-of-Fame voters are facing this year ... and may for several more to come.
Holt is now a Hall-of-Fame semifinalist for the third straight year, and his case for induction is bolstered by Martz’s claim. Holt played 11 years in the NFL, the first 10 of which were with a Rams team on which he became the only receiver in NFL history to put up six straight seasons of 1,300 or more receiving yards. He also became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 10,000 receiving yards and 11,000 receiving yards, finally ending his career with 13,382 yards (16th all-time) and 920 receptions.
Just as remarkable as those aggregate numbers is the fact that the only seasons in which Torry Holt did NOT have at least 1,000 receiving yards were his rookie year and his final season, an injury-plagued one in Jacksonville in which he was a shadow of what he had been the previous decade.
Twice Holt led the NFL in receiving yards (2000, 2003) and both times he AVERAGED over 100 yards per game (102.2 yards in 2000 and 106 yards in 2003). Not surprisingly, Holt’s per-game career average of 77.4 ranks sixth all time.
That is what production is all about.
Jerry Rice is universally considered to be the greatest receiver of all-time. Like Holt, the numbers Rice put up over a career that spanned nearly twice as long as Holt’s (20 seasons to Holt’s 11) are remarkable. But o0bHolt’s career numbers compare favorably to Rice’s in any way?
Thanks for asking. Because, as a matter of fact, they do.
Rice is the all-time leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns by a wide margin, but Holt holds the lead on him in two areas, which, when you’re talking about Jerry Rice, speaks loudly. When it comes to receptions per game played and yardage per game played, Holt leads in both.
Holt averaged 5.3 receptions per game to Rice’s 5.1 and 77.4 yards per game to Rice’s 75.6. That doesn’t make him Jerry Rice because Rice lasted nearly twice as long as Holt, but it just might make him a Hall of Famer.
A member of the 2000 all-decade team and a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Torry Holt was one of that decade’s dominant players. When he retired, he was in the top 10 all-time in receiving yards despite playing in an offense where Martz spread the ball among Holt, Hall-of-Fame semi-finalist Isaac Bruce, Hall-of-Fame running back Marshall Faulk and several other receivers.
Whether a decade of dominance is enough to win induction into pro football’s most exclusive club is a good question that will be asked later Tuesday, when the Hall-of-Fame finalists for the Class of 2018 are announced ... and for as long as it takes for Torry Holt’s production to be recognized. Until then he’ll look back on those years and know what it meant to set an NFL record for receptions in a single decade (868).
‘In my 11 years I was top five for a decade,’’ Holt told the Talk of Fame Network recently. “I took pride in that. (Opposing) guys would bring out two, three pairs of shows before the game to try and figure out how to cover us.’’
Judging by the numbers Torry Holt put up on them, maybe they should have brought four or five.