Ron Rivera compares Odell Beckham to Jerry Rice


The quintessential irresistible force paradox will play out Sunday when the unstoppable force, Odell Beckham Jr., meets the immovable object, Josh Norman.

Ahead of the matchup between the current best receiver in the NFL and the corner playing at the highest level, Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera made an all-time comparison when asked if OBJ is the best receiver his team has faced all season.

"Well, Julio Jones is right up there," Rivera said, via "But watching what (Beckham has) done in his first two seasons is tremendous. He really has an opportunity, I think, to be one of those guys you'll talk about him and Jerry Rice."

Jerry Rice. THE unanimous G.O.A.T.

Beckham has the most receiving yards by any player in his first 25 games (2,625), most receptions for a player in his first two seasons (176), the highest percentage of 100-yard games in NFL history (60 percent; 15 out of 25) and his rate of .96 TDs per game is best in NFL history -- ahead of Don Hutson (.85), Rob Gronkowski (.83) and Martavis Bryant (.78).

Clearly, Beckham has a long way to go to put up the sustained success Rice did during his 20-year career, but Rivera did not come lightly to the comparison or without deep understanding of each player.

"I had the great fortune of watching Jerry Rice, and man, I see a lot of flashes," Rivera said. "I played against Jerry as well, and I see a lot of flashes in Odell's game. I just think he's a tremendous football player."

For his part, Beckham was humbled by the comparison.

"To be mentioned in the same sentence as Jerry Rice is still shocking to me," Beckham told reporters via "That's the direction you want to go. I'm nowhere near there, but I do appreciate the compliment."

Beckham will take on his toughest opponent of the season when he lines up across from Norman.

The Panthers corner has been a shutdown machine this season. When matched up against five notable receivers this season (DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, T.Y. Hilton, Dez Bryant and Julio Jones), Norman was targeted a total of 25 times, allowing only nine completions, for a total of 89 yards. Of those wideouts, Hopkins recorded the most receiving yards (35). Quarterbacks who targeted those five receivers when covered by Norman recorded a dreadful passer rating of 46.9.

"Odell is a tremendous football player. I think Josh is a tremendous football player. And I think it's going to be a marquee matchup. I really do," Rivera said. "I think both guys are going to bring a lot to the table, so we'll see how it goes. This is one of those matchups you hope to see, and I think it's going to be a good one."

Get your popcorn ready.