In all of Pittsburgh Steelers history, there are only four players to have ever accumulated 10,000 all-purpose yards as a receiver, runner, and returner. Antonio Brown became the fourth member of that group in the Steelers’ season opener on Monday night, when he caught eight passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns, which put him over the mark.
— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) September 13, 2016
He joins an impressive list of players in doing so, two of which are already in the Hall of Fame, with the third a very strong possibility to find his way there in time as well. Running back Franco Harris was the first Steelers to reach that total in his career, and his feat was not duplicated until fellow Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis duplicated his efforts in the 2000s.
Wide receiver Hines Ward was the first wide receiver to crack 10,000 all-purpose yards with the Steelers, and the last Steelers player to do so before Brown joined the group two nights ago. As evidenced by his inclusion on this list, it would certainly seem that he is well on track to having a Hall of Fame-worthy career of his own.
In fact, he bettered each of those three players who accomplished the 10,000 feat before him in a very significant and substantial way, by simply doing so in a far shorter amount of time.
When Harris hit the 10,000-yard mark, he did so in the 111th game of his career with the Steelers. Bettis broke the barrier in his 122nd game in the black and gold. Ward had to wait all the way to the 164th game of his career before his broke through that threshold.
Brown? He reached the 10,000-yard mark in his 87th game. in the first game of the seventh season of his career, in the first of which he hardly played. He went on to make the Pro Bowl in four of his next five seasons, and the All-Pro list in each of the last three years, the last two as a first-team representative.
In his NFL career, Brown has now recorded 7219 receiving yards on 534 receptions, averaging 83 yards through the air per game. He also has recorded 110 yards on the ground, 1150 on kick returns—primarily during his first two seasons—and 1558 more as a punt returner.
In total, Brown now has 10,037 all-purpose yards, including 7329 on offense and 2708 return yards. Of course, his role in the return game has vastly aided him in reaching the 10,000-yard threshold ahead of the likes of Bettis, Harris, and Ward, but it won’t be long now—likely by the end of the 2017 season—that he has over 10,000 receiving yards alone.
Brown has over 5000 receiving yards in just the past three seasons alone, from 2013 to 2015, during which he set a record for the most yardage, and most receptions, in a three-year span, and there is no indication that the 2016 season will not be a continuation of that remarkable and unprecedented run.