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Jerry Lee Rice (born October 13, 1962) is an Americanmarker former football player. He is widely regarded as the greatest wide receiver ever and one of the greatest players in National Football League (NFL) history. The all-time leader in every major statistical category for wide receivers and the all-time NFL leader in touchdowns scored with 208, Rice was selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times (1986–1996, 1998, 2002) and named All-Pro 10 times in his 20 NFL seasons. He won three Super Bowl rings playing for the San Francisco 49ers and an AFC Championship with the Oakland Raiders.

Early years

Jerry Rice was born in Starkville, Mississippimarker but raised in Crawfordmarker, as the son of a brick mason. He developed his hands while working for his father. His speed also helped him excel in football in high school. He enjoyed watching football on television.

According to his book "Rice" (written with Michael Silver), the school's principal tracked him down, but when he called his name the startled Rice sprinted off running. Rice said the principal remarked afterwards, "Wow, this guy is extremely fast", according to the Coyne article. The next morning, the principal called Rice into his office, gave him his punishment (reportedly 5 or 6 lashings with a thick strap), and told the school's football coach about his speed.

As a high school player, he became an All-State end and defensive back (and also played running back and quarterback at times), but was not good enough to warrant scholarship offers from the 40 or so National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I-A schools that showed interest. Even Mississippi Statemarker, just 20 miles away, didn't offer a scholarship. But Archie Cooley, coach of Division I-AA Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Mississippi, had heard about Rice. Rice says of Cooley: "no one else came to see me in person." Based on that, as well as the urging from his older brother Tom, Jerry accepted the scholarship offer from MVSU and arrived in Itta Bena in 1981.

College career

Jerry Rice attended Mississippi Valley State University (from 1980-1984) becoming a standout receiver. He acquired the nickname "World" because there wasn't a ball in the world he couldn't catch. Statistics from his college career are rather sparse and inconsistent, but the College Football Hall of Famemarker website claims that Rice, as a sophomore in 1982, caught 66 passes for 1,133 yards and 7 touchdowns. Rice is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. That was his first season playing with redshirt freshman quarterback Willie Totten, nicknamed "Satellite." Together, Totten and Rice would become known as "The Satellite Express" and set numerous NCAA records in the spread offense of coach Archie Cooley, nicknamed "The Gunslinger."

Rice had a record-setting 1983 campaign, including NCAA marks for receptions (102) and receiving yards (1,450) and being named first-team Division I-AA All-America. He also set a single-game NCAA record by catching 24 passes against Southern Universitymarker. As a senior in 1984, he broke his own Division I-AA records for receptions (112) and receiving yards (1,845). His 27 touchdown receptions in that 1984 season set the NCAA mark for all divisions.

The 1984 season was also memorable for MVSU as the pass-happy Delta Devils attracted national attention, scoring 628 points (an average of more than 59 per game). After an August practice experiment, Cooley had Totten call all the plays at the line of scrimmage without a huddle. The result was even more staggering offensive numbers. Rice caught 17 passes for 199 yards against Southern, 17 for 294 against Kentucky Statemarker and 15 for 285 against Jackson State, the first time MVSU beat them since 1954. Rice scored 5 TDs twice that year. He finished his career with 301 catches for 4,693 yards and 50 touchdowns (some sources have the numbers as 310, 4,856 and 51); his NCAA record for total career touchdown receptions stood until 2006, when University of New Hampshiremarker wide receiver David Ball, recorded his 51st career receiving touchdown.

Rice was named to every All-American team (including the AP squad) and finished 9th in Heisman Trophy balloting in 1984. In the Blue Gray Classic all-star game played on Christmas Day, he earned MVP honors. Rice wore No. 88 in college, but switched to No. 80 in the pros.

In the spring of 1999, the school renamed its football stadium from Magnolia Stadium to Rice-Totten Fieldmarker in honor of Rice and Totten. Rice was inducted into the College Football Hall of Famemarker on August 12, 2006.

Professional career

San Francisco 49ers

Rice's 1984 record-breaking season at Mississippi Valley caught the attention of many NFL scouts, but his speed (reportedly only 4.71 in the 40-yard dash) kept most wary, although there were apparently at least two exceptions: the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers. In his autobiography, Rice says the Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, and Indianapolis Colts had kept in contact with him prior to the draft. In the first round of the 1985 NFL draft, Dallas had the 17th selection and San Francisco had the last (as Super Bowl champions from 1984). 49ers coach Bill Walsh reportedly became enamored with Rice after watching highlights of Rice the Saturday night before San Francisco was to play the Houston Oilers on October 21, 1984. On draft day (April 30, 1985), the 49ers traded its first two picks for New England's first-round choice, the 16th selection overall (the teams also swapped third-round picks as part of the deal), and selected Rice before, as some report, the Cowboys were intending to pick him. Rice was prized more highly by the USFL, as he was the #1 pick overall in that short-lived league's 1985 draft.

Although he struggled at times (dropping numerous passes), Rice took the NFL by storm in his rookie season for the 49ers in 1985, especially after a 10-catch, 241-yard game against the Los Angeles Rams in December. For that rookie season, he recorded 49 catches for 927 yards, averaging 18.9 yards per catch and was named NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year. (Eddie Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals, one of the two wide receivers taken ahead of Rice, was named the NFL Rookie of the Year.) The following season, he caught 86 passes for a league-leading 1,570 yards and 15 touchdowns. It was the first of 6 seasons in which Rice would lead the NFL in receiving and touchdown receptions. In 1987, he was named the NFL's MVP by the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) and the Pro Football Writers Association (PFWA) and the Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press (AP). Despite playing in only 12 games that year (NFL players strike), he still managed to gain 1,078 receiving yards and an NFL-record 22 touchdown receptions which stood until 2007 when it was broken by Randy Moss in 16 games.

In 1988 Rice averaged a career high 20.4 yards per catch as he caught 64 passes for 1,306 yards and 9 touchdowns. The 49ers once again won the NFC West with a 10–6 record. In the postseason, he was instrumental in the 49ers' 28–3 win over the Chicago Bears in the NFC title game, recording 5 catches for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns. But his performance in Super Bowl XXIII was even better. In possibly his finest performance ever, Rice caught 11 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 5 yards, helping the 49ers to a narrow 20–16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. His receptions and receiving yards were both Super Bowl records. For his performance, he became only the third wide receiver to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.

In 1989, San Francisco made it back to the Super Bowl, aided by Rice's 82 receptions for 1,483 yards and 17 touchdowns during the season, and his 12 catches for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns in their 2 playoff games. He was once again a major factor in the 49ers championship win, finishing Super Bowl XXIV with 7 catches for 148 yards and a Super Bowl record 3 touchdown receptions.

Rice had another superb season in 1990, leading the NFL in receptions (100), receiving yards (1,502) and receiving touchdowns (13). In a week 6 match-up with the Atlanta Falcons Rice caught a career-best 5 touchdowns. San Francisco finished the year with an NFL best 14–2 record, but failed to "3-peat" as Super Bowl champions, losing to the New York Giants 15–13 in the NFC title game.

After seasons of 80 catches for 1,206 yards and 14 touchdowns in 1991, 84 catches for 1,201 yards and 10 touchdowns in 1992, and 98 catches for 1,503 yards and 15 touchdowns in 1993, Rice made it back to the Super Bowl with the 49ers in the 1994 season, recording a career-high 112 receptions for 1,499 yards and 13 touchdowns. During the 49ers' first game of that season against the Los Angeles Raiders, Jerry Rice caught 7 passes for a season-high 169 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for one more and moving into first place in the NFL records for career touchdowns with 127. Although he only caught 6 passes in San Francisco's 2 playoff games that year, he proved to be a vital component in their 49–26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX, recording 10 receptions for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns — despite playing with a separated shoulder for much of the game.

In 1995, Rice caught a career high 122 passes for an NFL record 1,848 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns (along with 1 touchdown each by way of running, passing, and recovering a fumble). However, the 49ers lost in the divisional playoffs to the Green Bay Packers, despite Rice's impressive 11-catch, 117-yard performance. The following year, he recorded 108 receptions (leading the NFL) for 1,254 yards and 8 touchdowns. San Francisco won in the wild card round, but once again lost to the Packers in the divisional playoffs. In his 3 seasons between 1994 and 1996, Rice had racked up a whopping 342 catches for 4,601 yards and 36 touchdowns.

During the season opener of the 1997 season he tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee on a reverse. Warren Sapp of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers grabbed Rice by the face-mask and wrenched Rice to the ground with it, drawing a 15-yard personal foul. The injury broke his streak of 189 consecutive games played. Fourteen weeks later he made his return, much earlier than doctors wanted him to. He scored a touchdown, but when he came down with the catch, he cracked the patella in his left kneecap. He was forced to miss the Pro Bowl for the first time in 11 years. However, he made a full recovery, coming back to record 82 catches for 1,157 yards and 9 touchdowns in 1998 and being named to his 12th Pro Bowl.

1999 was the first season that Rice failed to reached 1000 yards receiving while playing in all 16 games. The same thing happened in 2000, in his final season as a San Francisco 49er.

Oakland Raiders

At the end of the 2000 season Rice left the 49ers to sign with the Oakland Raiders. He excelled with them in the 2001 season, catching 83 passes for 1,139 yards and 9 touchdowns. In 2002 he did even better, catching 92 passes for 1,211 yards and 7 touchdowns, being named to his 13th Pro Bowl and assisting Oakland to a championship appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII. His team lost the game 48–21, with Rice recording 5 receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. His 48-yard touchdown catch in the 4th quarter made him the first player ever to catch a touchdown pass in 4 different Super Bowls.

Oakland dropped from an 11–5 record in 2002 to a 4–12 record in 2003 and a 5–11 record in 2004.

Seattle Seahawks

Rice was traded to the Seattle Seahawks 4 games into the 2004 season, where he received permission from Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent to wear Largent's retired jersey number 80. Rice would play his last (non-preseason) professional game for Seattle, a playoff loss to the St. Louis Rams in which he did not catch a pass.

Denver Broncos

Rice went to training camp with the Denver Broncos prior to the 2005 season but retired shortly before the season began.

Retirement

On August 19, 2006 the San Francisco 49ers announced that Rice would sign a contract with them, allowing him to retire as a member of the team where his career began. On August 24, he officially retired as a 49er, signing a one-day contract for $1,985,806.49. The number represented the year Rice was drafted (1985), his number (80), the year he retired (2006), and the 49ers (49). The figure was ceremonial, and Rice received no money. There was a halftime ceremony to honor him during the 49ers' matchup with the Seattle Seahawks on November 19, 2006.

Legacy

Rice retired as the leader in a number of statistics. His 1,549 receptions were 447 receptions ahead of the second place record held by Marvin Harrison. His 22,895 receiving yards were 7,961 yards ahead of the second place spot held by his Raiders teammate Tim Brown. His 197 touchdown receptions are 65 scores more than the 132 touchdown receptions by his former 49ers teammate Terrell Owens, and his 208 total touchdowns (197-p, 10-r, 1-ret) were 33 scores ahead of Emmitt Smith's second place 175.

To illustrate the significance of his 22,895 receiving yards, if Rice had not gained any other yards on rush attempts or kick returns, his 22,895 receiving yards would still rank him second place on the NFL's list all-purpose yard leaders (category based on combination of rushing, receiving, kick/punt return yards, and interception/fumble return yards).

Another example of Rice's dominance is his performance against Deion Sanders, considered by many as the best coverage cornerback of all-time. From 1989 to 1996, Rice and Sanders faced off ten times, with Rice compiling 60 receptions for 1,051 yards and 11 receiving touchdowns against Sanders's teams (this would project to approximately 96 receptions for 1682 yards and 18 touchdowns in 16 games). Rice's teams won six of the ten games. To Sanders credit, Deion had 4 interceptions for 58 yards and 0 touchdowns in those ten games. Rice played against Sanders's teams twelve times, but Sanders did not play in two of those games (once in 1992 and once in 1993).

Rice is remembered for his work ethic and dedication to the game. In his 20 NFL seasons, Rice missed only 10 regular season games, 7 of them in the 1997 season, and the other 3 in the strike-shortened season of 1987. His 303 games are by far the most ever played by an NFL wide receiver, and are only 72 games behind the NFL record for games played by any player. In addition to staying on the field, his work ethic showed in his dedication to conditioning and running precise routes, with coach Dennis Green calling him "the best route runner I've ever seen." Also known as one of the best blockers at his position, there was no aspect of playing wide receiver at which Rice did not excel.

In 1999, he was ranked number 2 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, behind only Jim Brown, and Rice — 35 places ahead of the next-highest-ranked player then active, Deion Sanders — would play another five seasons.

NFL Hall of Fame candidacy

In 2010, Rice will be eligible for election to the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker. Despite a logjam of accomplished receiver candidates such as Andre Reed, Cris Carter and Tim Brown (also first eligible in 2010), Rice is widely expected to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Following the 2009 ceremony during NFL Total Access' post enshrinement coverage, Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin and one of Rice's former coaches Steve Mariucci both proclaimed Rice will be enshrined in 2010 in a matter of fact manner rather than speculation.

Media work

Rice and quarterback Steve Young appeared together in Visa, All Sport, and Gatorade commercials when they were both playing for the 49ers.

During the 2005–2006 broadcasting season, Rice competed in the reality show Dancing with the Stars. He was paired with dancer Anna Trebunskaya, and they reached the final two before finally losing to singer Drew Lachey and his partner Cheryl Burke. Rice also appeared in a season two episode of FOX's Don't Forget the Lyrics! as a backup dancer. He appeared in the first episode of Spike TV's Pros vs Joes challenge show. Rice has also appeared in an episode of the CW's One Tree Hill.

In 2007 and 2008, Rice appeared in Zaxby's restaurant television ads. In 2008, Rice and Steve Young appeared on an episode of reality show The Biggest Loser: Families as coaches putting the contestants through football drills. In 2009, Rice portrayed Hal Gore in the film Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling.

Rice has co-authored two books about his life: Rice (with Michael Silver, published 1996, ISBN 0312147953) and Go Long: My Journey Beyond the Game and the Fame (with Brian Curtis, published 2007, ISBN 0345496116). He co-hosts Sports Sunday, a prime time sports show shown in the San Francisco Bay Areamarker.

Personal

Rice signing autographs in 2006.
Rice has a nephew, Darius Rice, who played basketball for the University of Miami. A second cousin of Rice's JaRon Harris plays for the Green Bay Packers.

Jerry Rice has a son, Jerry Rice Jr., who is a senior in high school at Menlo Schoolmarker in Atherton, Californiamarker, graduating in 2009 - he is planning to attend UCLAmarker in the fall and walk on to the football team.

NFL records

References

  1. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=sando_mike&id=3309223
  2. http://www.nfl.com/history/randf/records/indiv/receiving
  3. [1]
  4. http://www.nfl.com/players/jerryrice/gamelogs?id=RIC128880
  5. http://www.nfl.com/players/deionsanders/gamelogs?id=SAN282736
  6. [2]
  7. Menlo's Jerry Rice Jr. commits to UCLA


External links




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