When Antonio Brown caught his 10th pass on the day for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, he didn’t simply reach 100 receptions for the season. He also hit the 100-catch mark for the sixth consecutive season. Brown was already the first player in NFL history to catch 100 or more passes in five consecutive seasons, so now he has padded his own record.
And not only that, but with his sixth season with 100 receptions overall, he also tied Brandon Marshall for the most seasons in NFL history with 100 or more catches. Marshall, a 2006 fourth-round draft pick, was the only player in NFL history before Sunday to have six seasons with at least 100 catches, but now he has company.
Marshall first caught 100 or more receptions in his second season while with the Denver Broncos. He would do so in each of the next two seasons as well, but he failed to reach that mark during his two seasons with the Miami Dolphins. He would hit 100 or more again in his first two years with the Chicago Bears, and then one final time with the New York Jets in 2015.
It’s impressive in its own right that Marshall was able to be that prolific on three different teams. His 2015 season at the age of 31 in fact was pretty remarkable. He had 109 catches for 1502 yards and 14 touchdowns. That is the fourth-most receiving yards in a single season by a player 31 years or older.
That is a key statistic of note because Antonio Brown will be 31 in 2019. After a bit of a grind through much of the year, his 2018 statistics have come up looking much the way they always do—even at an all-time high in some cases. With one game left to play, he has 104 receptions for 1297 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, the most he has ever had in his career.
The record for the most receptions at the age of 31 or older is owned by Jerry Rice, who caught 122 passes in 1995 at the age of 33. That was the same year that he reached 1848 receiving yards, which was an NFL record at the time and is of course the record for the most yards by a player 31 or older. The record for the most receiving touchdowns is Muhsin Muhammad’s 16 in 2004, but Rice also had 15 touchdowns twice beyond that age.
A lot of people wonder about the rest of Brown’s career. While the shelf life of wide receivers is not nearly as rigid as running backs, it’s difficult to stay dominant beyond 30. And we know that Ben Roethlisberger is probably not going to play into his 40s, or at least very far.
The Steelers’ 2010 sixth-round pick has already accomplished some unprecedented things in his nine-year career—and has the opportunity for more on Sunday, which I will write about tomorrow—but with how great he has already been, how much longer can it be sustained? Can he truly enter Rice’s ballpark in terms of efficient longevity? Dude had a 1000-yard season at the age of 40.