Childhood & Early Life
Jerry Rice was born on October 13, 1962 in Starkville, Mississippi, to a brick mason. He was one of the eight children born to the couple.
Since an early age, Young Rice and his siblings assisted their father during the scorching summers. Working as assistant brick layer helped him gain strong hands as a child.
It is speculated that his first stint at football was a chance offering to survive punishment from his high school principal for cutting class. His excellent running speed caught the attention of the principal who gave him two options, either to join school’s football team or be punished.
While at school, he became a star football player for his team and a belligerent threat for other opposition teams. very soon his speed and refined playing tactics caught the attention of the college scouts who offered him to enroll at the Mississippi Valley State University.
From 1981 to 1984, he played football for the university. His aggressive playing technique and impressive numbers caught the attention of the pro-scouts as well. Though the exact details of his college career is not known, it is said that in his sophomore year, he caught 66 passes for 1,133 yards and 7 touchdowns
In his four year of college career, he hauled 301 catches for 4,693 yards and 50 touchdowns and collected 18 Division I-AA records. The record, a massive one, was broken only in 2006 when University of New Hampshire’s receiver, David Ball recorded his 51st touchdown.
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His outstanding talent, light-footed play and amazing skills contributed to give him a great professional star to his career. Post his massive display of talent at the game, he became the overall #2 pick for the 1985 draft for the league.
He was finally roped in by San Francisco 49ers with the 16th overall pick. Though he started on a slow note, he soon gained momentum and finished the season with a record of 49 catches for 927 yards, averaging at 18.9 yards per catch.
The following season brought forth a legacy that lasted for the next six seasons. He caught 86 passes for a league-leading 1,570 yards and 15 touchdowns, thus achieving the breakthrough that he deserved.
For the 1987 season, he only bettered his record thus earning the Player of the Year award. Despite playing 12 games, he gained 1,078 receiving yards and an NFL-record 22 touchdown reception.
The 1988 season was a time of superlative success for this talented football player who averaged 20.4 yards per catch, with 64 passes for 1306 yards and 9 touchdowns. The same year, he helped the 49ers beat Chicago Bears in the NFC game title by a whooping margin of 28-3.
The success of 1988 went further when he helped San Francisco 49ers beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl XXIII with 11 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown.
Riding high on his success, he multiplied the win ratio further by assisting his team to not only make it to the Super Bowl XXIV but win the same. While his prior performance of 82 receptions for 1483 yards and 17 touchdowns helped the team secure a place in the Super Bowl, his Super Bowl performance of 7 catches for 148 yards and 3 touchdown receptions helped them bag the championship yet again.
The 1990 season opened on a note of success and ended with him recording his then career best of 100 receptions for 1502 yards and 13 touchdowns. Though the San Francisco 49ers made it to the Super Bowl XXV, they failed to make a hat trick losing to New York Giants in the 15-13 NFC title game.
For the following three seasons, he recorded significant numbers with 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.
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Year 1994 was a stupendously successful one for him as he recorded his career high 112 receptions for 1,499 yards and 13 touchdowns. Not just this, he recorded 7 passes for a season-high 169 yards and two touchdowns against a match with Los Angeles Raiders which eventually helped him gain the first place in the NFL records for career touchdowns, standing at 127.
In 1995, he revised his own career record for passes, standing at 122 for 1848 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. The following year, his graph scaled yet again with him leading the NFL with 108 receptions for 1254 yards and 8 touchdowns. By the end of 1996, his three year record stood at 342 catches for 4,601 yards and 36 touchdowns.
Injuries got better off his game in 1997 as he tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee on a reverse. With a fighter’s spirit, he got back to the game within a couple of months to record 82 catches for 1,157 yards and 9 touchdowns in 1998 thus being named to his 12th Pro Bowl.
His performance declined considerably in 1999, during which he failed to make it to the 1000 yards in all his 16 games. The waning graph continued for the year 2000 as well which marked the end of his more than decade long association with San Francisco 49ers.
In 2000, he signed a contract with Oakland Raiders. Together with fellow player Tim Brown, he caught 83 passes for 1,139 yards and 9 touchdowns. He bettered his record in 2002 with 92 passes for 1,211 yards and 7 touchdowns. The same year, he was named to the 13th Pro Bowl. He even helped the team secure a place in the Super Bowl XXXVII, eventually losing to Buccaneer.
Frustrated with the team performance and dissatisfied over his role in the team, he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in 2003. He played six games until 2004. It was during his term with the Seattle Seahawks that he set the career NFL record for combined net yards by catching a 27-yard touchdown pass
During the end of the 2004 season, he first opted to team up with the Denver Broncos for a year but later rejected the proposal to take up retirement.
In 2006, to honor his valuable contribution to San Francisco 49ers, he signed a one day contract with the team to officially retire as a 49er.
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Awards & Achievements
In 1999, he was ranked number two on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Football Players
He was selected for induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2010. He was finally inducted in Canton Ohio on August 7, 2010.
In 2010, he was ranked number one on The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players. The position made him the greatest football player at the highest level of the sport.
His jersey number 80 was retired on September 20, 2010 during halftime at the San Francisco 49ers-Saints game.