Hall of Fame wide receiver and three-time Super Bowl champion Jerry Rice is widely regarded as the best wide receiver to ever play in the National Football League, and arguably the greatest player of all time. During his 15-year career with the San Francisco 49ers, Rice won three Super Bowls – Super Bowl XXIII (’88), Super Bowl XXIV (’89) and SB XXIX (’94) – and one Super Bowl MVP. He enjoyed three seasons with the Oakland Raiders, including a Super Bowl appearance and one season with the Seattle Seahawks before retiring in 2005. Rice was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in January 2010, his first year of eligibility.Rice’s meticulous preparation and work ethic during his 20-year NFL career became legendary. He holds 36 NFL records – a record in itself. He scored the most touchdowns in NFL history (208) and holds virtually every significant career receiving record, including receptions (1,549), yards receiving (22,895), all-purpose yards (23,546), touchdown receptions (197) and consecutive games with at least one catch (274).
During his career, Rice was selected to the Pro Bowl a record 13 times, won the NFL Most Valuable Player Award in 1987 and was Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl XXIII. In 1999, he was ranked No. 2 in The Sporting News’ list of 100 Greatest Football Players – the highest-ranked active player and receiver – and in 2010, was voted the No. 1 player in the NFL Network’s The Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players.
Born in Crawford, Mississippi, Rice did not start playing football until he was a sophomore in high school. Despite becoming an All-State player, Rice was not recruited by many major college football programs and attended Mississippi Valley State University, a Division I-AA school. As a senior, he broke NCAA records for receptions, yards and touchdowns and acquired the nickname “World” because there wasn’t a ball in the world he couldn’t catch. MVSU later renamed its football stadium Rice-Totten Stadium in honor of Rice and quarterback Willie Totten. He was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
In 1985, Rice caught the eye of future 49ers Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh who drafted him with the 16th overall pick in the 1985 draft. In only his second season, Rice set the NFL record for touchdown receptions with 22 – a feat even more significant because the season was shortened to 12 games because of the players’ strike. By the late 1980s, Rice had become one of the biggest receiving threats in the NFL, teaming with Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young to win three championships. After leaving the 49ers, Rice continued to excel, having his 13th and 14th 1,000-yard receiving seasons and scoring his 200th touchdown in 2002 with Oakland.
Since his retirement, Rice’s celebrity has grown beyond the football field. He finished second in the second season of the ABC hit-reality show Dancing with the Stars and has appeared on NBC’s Deal or No Deal, Fox’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics, CBS’s The Class, CW’s The Game and One Tree Hill, Spike TV’s Pros vs. Joes, ABC’s American Inventor and The Biggest Loser. Rice has also co-hosted “Sports Sundays” with Raj Mathai on the San Jose NBC local affiliate.