Monday, February 08, 2010

The G.O.A.T.

Jerry Rice was at the wedding of one Eddie DeBartolo's daughters. He pulled the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers aside and asked Eddie D. to be his presenter when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

It was March of 2000. Rice would go to play for 5 more seasons, including appearances in the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl (when in 2002 he was a 40 year old starting receiver) before retiring at age 42.

Jerry Rice wasn't just the best receiver ever to play the game, he was the hardest working. This was a guy who if he felt he was too heavy would hop on a stair climber for 45 minutes just hours before kickoff. I'll be honest it was Jerry's ability that makes you love him, he wasn't the most personal cat out there (that's not just from stories, I met him once), one line of his always stuck in my head. It wasn't a funny line, but it told you everything you would ever need to know about the greatest of all time. He said that you can't decide when you are 32 that you want to play until you are 40. When he came into the league he decided he wanted to play for as long as he could and even as a youth trained himself for that. He played 16 games in 17 of his 20 regular seasons. In his last season at age 42 he played 17 games because he was traded midseason.

After turning thirty he racked up 1,000 receptions for 13,546 yards and 102 touchdowns. Only Cris Carter [who should be in the Hall], Marvin Harrison, and Terrell Owens put up career numbers in that range. After turning 30 Jerry played in seven Pro Bowls and was All-Pro 5 times. He led the league in catches once, touchdowns once, and yardage three times - including setting and NFL record at age 35 in 1995 when he had 122 catches for 1,848 yards and 15 touchdowns (16 if you count rushing TDs).

On October 13, 2002 Jerry Rice turned 40. As it turned out he was playing the St. Louis Rams for his birthday. He celebrated by catching seven passes for 133 yards. Think about that: a 40 year old man lighting a team up for 100 yards. He would do it six more times before he hung them up.

There's not really much more to say, he was simply the best.


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