Legends Of The Gridiron - Jerry Rice
Rice is regarded as the greatest wide receiver ever to play in the
NFL. He’s broken and holds more records than any wide receiver ever to
play the game. His impressive thirteen Pro Bowl appearances in twenty
NFL seasons with three Super Bowl rings is a mark of greatness.
But who was Jerry Rice? Where did he come from and how did he make it into
the record books?
Jerry Rice grew up in a small town of Crawford Mississippi. He attended
Moor High School and went onto Mississippi Valley State University where
he earned the name “World” because there wasn’t a ball in the world he
Rice had a successful college career with record setting seasons in 1983
and 1984. In 1983 Rice number 88 at the time, set a record with 102
receptions and 1,450 receiving yards while being named to Division I-AA
All-America team. In 1984, Rice smashed his previous Division I-AA
records with 112 receptions and 1,845 receiving yards. Add to those
numbers his 27 touchdowns and he set the NCAA mark for all divisions.
Jerry Rice went on to finish his college career with 301 catches for
4,693 yards and 50 touchdowns. Jerry was inducted into the College Hall
of Fame on August 12, 2006.
On April 30th, 1985 the San Francisco 49ers traded its 1st round pick
(16th over all) and a third round pick to New England to grab Rice
before the Dallas Cowboys had the chance to take him.
In his rookie season, number 80 Jerry Rice, recorded 49 catches for 927
yards, averaging 18.9 yards per catch. From there his stats would only
go up. In the following season, 1986, he posted 86 catches for a league
leading 1,570 yards with 15 touchdowns. It was his first of 6 seasons
that he led the NFL in receiving and touchdown receptions.
In 1987, Jerry Rice was named NFL’s Player of the Year despite the
season due to a players strike. He still managed to put up
1,078 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns in only 12 games.
In 1988 he had one of his best seasons ever. With 64 catches, 1,306
receiving yards and 9 touchdowns Jerry Rice had helped his team reach
Super Bowl XXIII. But getting there was only half his goal. Not only did
Jerry Rice help the 49ers win the Super Bowl with 11 catches, 215 yards
and a touchdown reception but he was also awarded the Super Bowl MVP. He
was only the third receiver ever to receive such an honor.
In 1989, Jerry Rice picked up right where he left off bringing the 49ers
back to the Super Bowl with another strong season. Jerry’s Super Bowl
show netted him 7 receptions for 148 yards and a Super Bowl record 3
But Jerry wasn’t finished and continued to amaze his fans, team and
franchise. In 1990 Jerry lead the NFL with 100 receptions, 1,502
receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. In 1994 he recorded a career-high 112
catches, for 1,499 yards and 13 touchdowns. On a Monday Night showdown
with the Los Angeles Raiders, Jerry caught 7 passes for a season high
169 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for his third touchdown of
the game moving him into first place all-time in the NFL record books
for career touchdowns with 127.
His performance in Super Bowl XXIX recorded an amazing 10 catches for 149
yards and 3 touchdowns all while playing injured with a separated
Continuing to smash records, in 1995 Rice caught a career high 122 passes,
and an NFL record 1,848 receiving yards with 13 touchdowns.
But in 1997, after 12 seasons in the league, the NFL got to see what Jerry
Rice was really made of. He suffered a possible career ending injury in
the season opener when he tore his anterior cruciate and medial
collateral ligaments in his left knee stopping his consecutive games
played streak at 189. After only 14 weeks of recovery Jerry Rice
returned to the NFL against doctors recommendations. He caught a
touchdown pass in his first game back but cracked his patella in his
left kneecap and missed the Pro Bowl for the first time in 11 years.
This injury fueled Jerry Rice to work even harder in the off-season. He
was driven and determined to be back the following season and was he
ever. In 1998 after making a full recovery Jerry recorded 82 catches,
1,157 yards and 9 touchdowns but unfortunately came up short in reaching
the post season. His last two years with the 49ers were unsuccessful in
reaching the playoffs as well so the 49er organization realized it was
time to rebuild. Jerry saw the writing on the wall and signed with the
Oakland Raiders in 2001.
Jerry proving that he was still one of the NFL’s most dangerous receivers
posted great performances for the Raiders helping them reach the Super
Bowl in 2002. Jerry’s Super Bowl XXXVII performance of 5 catches for 77
yards and 1 touchdown made him the first player to ever catch a
touchdown pass in 4 different Super Bowls.
With disappointing seasons for the Raiders in 2002 and 2003, Jerry Rice
was traded 4 games into the 2004 season. He joined the Seattle Seahawks
for the remaining of the year and played his last post season game
against the St Louis Rams. In 2005, Rice made the Denver Broncos team
however announced retirement before the season began.
On August 19th 2006, Jerry Rice signed a contract with the San Francisco
49ers that would allow him to retire as a member of the team he started
his career with. Officially, on August 24th 2006, Jerry Rice retired as
a member of the San Francisco 49ers signing a one-day ceremonial
Jerry Rice loved football and was dedicated to the game on and off the
field. His superior work ethic kept him in peak condition for his long
20-year career. He only missed a total of 17 games in 20 years.
Amazingly 14 of the 17 games were in 1997 when he was knocked out with
his knee injury. The other 3 games were during the shortened season when
the player’s strike cut the season short. Jerry Rice was a true
professional and is a living legend of the National Football League that
one-day will be enshrined into the NFL Football Hall of Fame.
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