Jerry Lee Rice (born October 13, 1962) is a former American football wide receiver who played 20 seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He is widely considered to be the greatest wide receiver in NFL history and among the greatest NFL players overall. On November 4, 2010, Rice was chosen by NFL Network's NFL Films production The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players as the greatest player in NFL history.
He is the all-time leader in most major statistical categories for wide receivers, including receptions, touchdown receptions, and yards. Rice was selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times (1986–1996, 1998, 2002) and named All-Pro 12 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. As of 2014 Rice held over 100 NFL records, the most of any player by a wide margin.
Rice was born in Starkville, Mississippi and grew up in the small town of Crawford, Mississippi, as the son of a brick mason. Rice believes that his hands were developed when he and his brother were working for his father's business. They would throw bricks up two stories to get them where they were needed. His speed also helped him excel in football in high school.
According to his book Rice (written with Michael Silver), the school's principal tracked him down for cutting class, but when he called his name, the startled Rice sprinted off running. After seeing him run, the principal decided to give Rice two options: join the football team or be punished. Rice decided on football, and the principal told the school's football coach about his speed.
Rice attended Mississippi Valley State University from 1981 to 1984. He became a standout receiver and acquired the nickname "World", because there wasn't a ball in the world he couldn't catch. Statistics from his college career are sparse, but the College Football Hall of Fame website claims that Rice, as a sophomore in 1982, caught 66 passes for 1,133 yards and 7 touchdowns. 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 University. 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 State 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 Hampshire wide receiver David Ball recorded his 51st career receiving touchdown.
Rice was named to every All-American team (including the AP squad) and finished ninth 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 he switched to No. 80 in the pros.
In the spring of 1999, the school renamed its football stadium from Magnolia Stadium to Rice-Totten Stadium in honor of Rice and Totten. Rice was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on August 12, 2006.
San Francisco 49ers
Rice's record-breaking season at Mississippi Valley caught the attention of many NFL scouts, but his speed (reportedly only 4.692 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 sought 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 impressed the NFL 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 six seasons in which Rice would lead the NFL in receiving yards 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 (with Moss catching 23 touchdowns in 16 games). In 1987, the runner-up to Rice in touchdown receptions was Philadelphia Eagles receiver Mike Quick with 11. This marked the first time in post NFL-AFL merger history that a category leader doubled the total of his nearest competitor.
In 1988, Rice averaged a career high 20.4 yards per catch (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, he caught 7 passes for a season-high 169 yards and two touchdowns (and rushed for one more), 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 a then-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 (again leading the NFL) for 1,254 yards and 8 touchdowns. San Francisco won in the wild card round, but once more 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 49ers' opening game 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 him 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 reach 1000 yards receiving while playing in all 16 games. The same thing happened in 2000, in his final season in San Francisco.
With the emergence of Terrell Owens in San Francisco, and because of their desire to rebuild the team and clear salary, Rice left the 49ers and signed with the Oakland Raiders, following the conclusion of the 2000 season. He joined a Raiders team coming off a loss in the AFC playoffs, to form one of the oldest receiver duos with Tim Brown.
The two played well together, as Rice caught 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 an AFC championship and appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII. His team lost 48–21 to the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl, with Rice recording 5 receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. His 48-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter made him the first player ever to catch a touchdown pass in four Super Bowls.
On November 11, 2002 against the Denver Broncos, Rice scored his 200th career touchdown, and surpassed Walter Payton to become the NFL's all-time leader in total yardage. Oakland dropped from an 11–5 record in 2002 to a 4–12 record in 2003, leading to frustration from Rice about his role on the team; he eventually requested a trade.
Rice was traded to the Seattle Seahawks six games into the 2004 season, and was reunited with Seattle head coach Mike Holmgren, who had previously worked with Rice as San Francisco's offensive coordinator. After speaking with Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent, Rice was granted permission to wear Largent's retired jersey number 80.
In a Monday Night Football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Rice set the career NFL record for combined net yards by catching a 27-yard touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck. He finished that game with 8 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. Rice would play his last (non-preseason) professional game for Seattle - a wildcard loss to the St. Louis Rams in which he did not catch a pass.
At the conclusion of the 2004 season (his 20th in the NFL), Rice initially opted to join the Denver Broncos on a one-year deal, but ultimately decided he would rather retire than be at the bottom of any team's depth chart.
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.
Rice holds numerous NFL receiving records. His 1,549 career receptions are 307 receptions ahead of the second place record held by Tony Gonzalez. His 22,895 career receiving yards are 6,961 yards ahead of the second place spot held by his former 49ers teammate Terrell Owens. His 197 career touchdown receptions are 41 scores more than the second place record of 156 touchdown receptions by Randy Moss, and his 208 total touchdowns (197-rec, 10-rush, & 1-fumble recovery) are 33 scores ahead of Emmitt Smith's second place total of 175. He also threw 1 TD pass against the Atlanta Falcons in a 1995 regular season game. His 1,256 career points scored make him the highest-scoring non-kicker in NFL history. During a career spanning two decades, Rice averaged 75.6 receiving yards per game, sixth-highest in NFL history among wide receivers. Only Calvin Johnson (86.7), Andre Johnson (79.7), Torry Holt (77.4), Marvin Harrison (76.7), and Larry Fitzgerald (76.0) have averaged more receiving yards per game over a career.
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 yardage 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) (he has collected 23,540 all-purpose yards: 22,895 receiving, 645 rushing, and 6 from punt returns).
Rice is remembered also as one of the best clutch players in football history. He was a crucial part of the 49ers victory in Super Bowl XXIII. Down 16-13 with less than three minutes to play, quarterback Joe Montana led the 49ers in the game winning drive with 36 seconds left on the clock. Rice was instrumental in that drive, catching three passes, and was voted the Super Bowl MVP. Rice often made game winning catches throughout his career. Known as one of the best blockers at his position, there was no aspect of playing wide receiver at which Rice did not excel.
Rice is also 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. 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." One of the best known examples of his dedication and ethic may be "The Hill", a long and steep hill in Edgewood County Park & Natural Preserve, that is "two and a half miles up". Rice would sprint across the hill literally every day to improve his abilities. "The Hill" has served as an inspiration for many other players in the 49ers organization, among them former first-round pick wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, who neglected to train with Rice on "The Hill", and was subsequently traded.
In 1999, Rice was ranked number two on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, behind only Jim Brown, and was 35 places ahead of the next-highest-ranked player then active, Deion Sanders.
On November 4, 2010, Rice was ranked number one on The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players, declaring him to be the greatest football player at the highest level of the sport that is the NFL.
In 2011, The Sports Network awarded the inaugural Jerry Rice Award, to be given each year to the most outstanding freshman Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) player. The inaugural winner was Towson running back Terrance West.
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Rice was selected for induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2010 in his first year of eligibility. He was inducted in Canton, Ohio on August 7, 2010 alongside Emmitt Smith, Floyd Little, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Dick LeBeau, and John Randle. On September 20, 2010, during halftime at the 49ers-Saints game, Rice's #80 jersey number was retired.
- Most career games played by a position player- 303
- Most career Receiving Yards- 22,895
- Most career Receptions- 1,549
- Most career Touchdown Receptions- 197
- Most career Yards from Scrimmage- 23,540 (22,895 receiving, 645 rushing)
- Most career Touchdowns from Scrimmage- 207 (197 receptions, 10 rushing)
- Most career All Purpose Yards- 23,546 (22,895 receiving, 645 rushing, 6 kick returns)
- Most career All Purpose Touchdowns- 208 (197 receptions, 10 rushing, 1 fumble)
- Most 1,000 yard seasons by a receiver- 14
- Fastest player to reach 100 touchdown receptions- 120 GP
- Fastest player to reach 12,000 receiving yards- 142 GP
- Fastest player to reach 13,000 receiving yards- 156 GP
- Fastest player to reach 14,000 receiving yards- 164 GP
- Fastest player to reach 15,000 receiving yards- 172 GP
- Fastest player to reach 16,000 receiving yards- 184 GP
- Fastest player to reach 17,000 receiving yards- 197 GP
- Fastest player to reach 18,000 receiving yards- 217 GP
- Fastest player to reach 19,000 receiving yards- 234 GP
- Fastest player to reach 20,000 receiving yards- 250 GP
- Fastest player to reach 21,000 receiving yards- 262 GP
- Fastest player to reach 22,000 receiving yards- 277 GP
- Fastest player to gain 22,000 yards from scrimmage- 266 GP
- Fastest player to gain 23,000 yards from scrimmage- 285 GP
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's Pros vs. Joes challenge show. He also made cameo appearances in the television series The Class, The Game and Rules of Engagement. 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 advertisements. 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. Rice and Young as well as Deion Sanders have appeared in commercials for Van Heusen clothing company as "Fashion Judges." 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 0-312-14795-3) and Go Long: My Journey Beyond the Game and the Fame (with Brian Curtis, published 2007, ISBN 0-345-49611-6). He co-hosts Sports Sunday with NBC sportscaster Raj Mathai, a prime time sports show shown in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jerry married Jacqueline Bernice Mitchell on September 8, 1987. Jacqueline Rice filed for divorce in June 2007. The former couple were divorced in late December 2009. They have three children together: Jaqui Bonet (born 1987), Jerry Rice, Jr. (born 1991), and Jada Symone (born 1996). Jerry Jr, who attended high school at Menlo School in Atherton, California, graduated in 2009. Jerry Jr was a walk-on at UCLA and redshirted his first season. After three seasons and limited playing time, Jerry Rice Jr. graduated from UCLA and transferred to UNLV and was eligible to play immediately. Jerry Jr. played wide receiver for the Rebels, and had participated in a 49ers local pro day prior to the 2014 NFL Draft, but was not drafted. Jerry became a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity at the Delta Phi chapter while in school at Mississippi Valley State University.
Rice has played golf for over 20 years and would wake up early to play golf during his football career. He competed in the Fresh Express Classic at TPC Stonebrae on the Nationwide Tour on April 15–16, 2010. He received a sponsor's exemption to play in the tournament. Rice missed the cut and finished one shot ahead of last place, finishing 17-over and 151st among the 152 players who completed two rounds.
- Rice's football career traced to Oktibbeha County
- "Start with Rice No. 1, Moss No. 2 in best WR debate". Sports.espn.go.com. March 26, 2008. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
- "History". Nfl.com. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
- Press, Associated. "BCS review of Fiesta could conclude in month – AP News Wire, Associated Press News". Salon.com. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
- "College Football Hall of Fame || News". Collegefootball.org. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
- White, David (April 21, 2009). "History points to speed over TDs". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
- Numbelivable!, p.147, Michael X. Ferraro and John Veneziano, Triumph Books, Chicago, Illinois, 2007, ISBN 978-1-57243-990-0
- "America's Favorite Game: the Super Bowl". National Football League. 2013-01-21. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
- Peterson, Anne (April 6, 2001). "It's official: Rice is a Raider". Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
- "Super Bowl XXXVII". Superbowlhistory.net. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "Frustration grows in Rice - NFL - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2004-10-14. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- Hack, Damon (October 21, 2004). "NFL: Rice eager to show he's not done yet". New York Times.
- "NFL legend's No. 1 job: Help Hawks win, With Steve Largent's blessing, Jerry Rice is eager to put on No. 80 and help take Seattle to the next level.". Nl.newsbank.com. 2004-10-20. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
- "Rice sets his 35th NFL record - NFL - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2004-12-06. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "NFL Game Center: Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks - 2004 Week 13". Nfl.com. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "Broncos give Rice a chance to extend career". USA Today. May 26, 2005.
- "Football Legend Jerry Rice Retires". CBS News.
- "Rice signs one-day deal to retire as a 49er". USA Today. August 24, 2006. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
- Hunt, Donald. "Jerry Rice Award humbles its namesake". http://espn.go.com. ESPN.com. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- Michael David Smith %BloggerTitle% (January 8, 2010). "Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith Among Hall of Fame Finalists". Nfl.fanhouse.com. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
- "Jerry Rice NFL Football Statistics". Pro-Football-Reference.com. 1962-10-13. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
- Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling at the Internet Movie Database
- "Jerry Rice & Nitus' Dog Football Wii". IGN. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
- "2014 Pro Bowl features new format for NFL all-star game". NFL.com. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
- "Player Bio: Jerry Rice, Jr. – UCLA Official Athletic Site". Uclabruins.com. July 27, 1991. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
- "Menlo's Jerry Rice Jr. commits to UCLA". Paloaltoonline.com. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "Player Bio: Jerry Rice Jr. – UNLV Official Athletic Site". unlvrebels.com. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
- "Reports: Ravens invite Jerry Rice Jr.". ESPN. May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- "Delta Phi Chapter 1984 – Bro. Jerry Rice – MVSU". Bluephi.com. May 12, 2009. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
- "Jerry Rice misses cut in Nationwide Tour event". Golf.com. 2010-04-16. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- Jerry Rice at the Pro Football Hall of Fame
- Jerry Rice at the College Football Hall of Fame
- Career statistics and player information from NFL.com • ESPN • Yahoo! Sports • SI.com • Pro-Football-Reference
- Jerry Rice at the Internet Movie Database
|Awards and achievements|
Marshall Faulk (1994)
|Pro Bowl MVP
Mark Brunell (1996)
John O'Hurley & Charlotte Jørgensen
|Dancing with the Stars (US) runner up
Season 2 (Spring 2006 with Anna Trebunskaya)
Mario Lopez & Karina Smirnoff
|NFL single-season receiving record