For the second straight NFL Sunday, a well-known wide receiver topped 100 yards in his first game against his former team. Last week it was the Redskins’ DeSean Jackson renewing acquaintances with the Eagles; this week it was Steve Smith exchanging pleasantries with the Panthers.
In the free-agent era, such made-for-TV reunions have become commonplace. They didn’t happen nearly so often in the old days. Consider: Don Hutson played for only one club his entire career: the Packers. The same goes for Raymond Berry (Colts), Charley Taylor (Redskins) and Steve Largent (Seahawks). Don Maynard had all but six of his 633 catches for the Jets, Art Monk all but 52 of his 940 for the Redskins. And each of them, I’ll just remind you, held the all-time receptions record at some point.
Now you have wideouts — in their later years, particularly — bouncing from team to team and basically playing as long as they’ve got two legs to run routes with. What was Jerry Rice’s last known address again? Oh, yes, the Broncos (though he had second thoughts and retired before playing for them).
So expect to see plenty more of these scenes in the seasons ahead — a celebrated wideout crossing paths with his old club. It’s kind of the football equivalent of bumping into your ex-wife, and, as we’ve seen, can make for very good theater. Smith, with touchdowns of 61 and 21 yards vs. Carolina, and Jackson, with an 81-yarder vs. Philadelphia, had two of the best Revenge Games (if you want to call them that) in modern times. One man’s Top 10:
BEST “REVENGE GAMES” BY WIDE RECEIVERS SINCE 1960
|Date||Receiver, Team||Former Team||Rec||Yds||TD||Result|
|10-30-11||Anquan Boldin, Ravens||Cardinals||7||145||0||W, 30-27|
|9-18-05||Terrell Owens, Eagles||49ers||5||143||2||W, 42-3|
|9-28-14||Steve Smith, Ravens||Panthers||7||139||2||W, 38-10|
|9-21-14||DeSean Jackson, Redskins||Eagles||5||117||1||L, 37-34|
|10-18-09||Torry Holt, Jaguars||Rams||5||101||0||W, 23-20|
|11-15-64||Tommy McDonald, Cowboys||Eagles||7||99||0||L, 17-14|
|11-21-93||Irving Fryar, Dolphins||Patriots||4||97||1||W, 17-13|
|9-23-62||Bobby Mitchell, Redskins||Browns||3||94||1||W, 17-16|
|9-12-93||Gary Clark, Cardinals||Redskins||6||93||0||W, 17-10|
|12-24-94||Henry Ellard, Redskins||Rams||5||81||0||W, 24-21|
Note: Mitchell caught the winning touchdown pass in the final two minutes, a 50-yarder. . . . Ellard’s game was the last one the Rams played in Los Angeles before moving to St. Louis.
OTHERS WORTHY OF MENTION
|Date||Wide Receiver, Team||Former Team||Rec||Yds||TD||Result|
|11-3-02||Jerry Rice, Raiders||49ers||6||74||0||L, 23-20|
|9-23-12||Randy Moss, 49ers||Vikings||3||27||0||L, 24-13|
|9-13-87||James Lofton, Raiders||Packers||2||32||0||W, 20-0|
|11-5-72||Lance Alworth, Cowboys||Chargers||1||8||0||W, 34-28|
|11-24-13||Wes Welker, Broncos||Patriots||4||31||0||L, 34-31|
|9-24-00||Keyshawn Johnson, Bucs||Jets||1||1||0||L, 21-17|