Monday, May 09, 2005

His Spot in Canton Awaits Him

The greatest wide receiver in professional football league history may soon finally call it a career. At 42 years old Jerry Rice can’t find any teams that want to sign him – not even the San Francisco 49ers, the team that drafted him and watched him shine during his sixteen years being the greatest wide receiver on the planet. Rice totaled so many records and achievements during his twenty seasons in the NFL that you can’t argue that he was in fact the best ever.

One of the beauties of Jerry Rice is not what he accomplished in his career but where he came from and how he went about being possibly the greatest offensive player in NFL history. That’s right, I said greatest offensive player in NFL history. Who compares to Jerry? Not a single guy.

Jerry grew up in Crawford, Mississippi and starred on his high school football and basketball teams while also being a great track runner. He wasn’t a top recruit at the big colleges in the country and landed himself a college scholarship to play football at Divisioin II Mississippi Valley State. In Jerry’s four years playing wide receiver at MVS he totaled 4,693 yards and set 18 NCAA Division II records while earning All-America status in both his junior and senior seasons. In his senior season he scored twenty eight touchdowns and totaled 1,845 yards and was the Blue-Gray All-Star game MVP.

After graduating from Mississippi Valley State the 49ers drafted him and had high hopes that he would become one of the leagues premier receivers – I think he reached their expectations. He teamed up with Joe Montana and then Steve Young (84 career TDs together – NFL record) to form two of the greatest pass-catch combos in league history while leading the Niners to three Super Bowl titles and awards and records that still stand. After the 2000 season the 49ers decided that Rice wasn’t in their plans any longer and decided to let him sign with the other team from the Bay Area – the Oakland Raiders. It was a perfect fit for Jerry – he was able to stay in the same house that he and his wife built and raised their three children in. In his first two seasons in Silver & Black it was the same old Jerry…he teamed up with Tim Brown as the two became Rich Gannon’s dual target. In his second season with the Raiders they went all the way to the Super Bowl, but lost to the Tampa Bay Bucaneers. Jerry did his part catching five passes for 77 yards and hauled in a touchdown.

He holds more than a dozen NFL records and has been named NFL Player of the Year two times. Rice is a 13-time Pro-Bowl selection and caught 1,549 passes for 22,895 yards with 197 receiving touch downs – All NFL records. JR caught eleven passes for 215 yards and a touch down while being awarded the MVP in Super Bowl XXII.

Jerry needs to realize that his incredible career is over and he needs to walk away and enjoy the rest of his life. Twenty years in the NFL along with three Super Bowl rings and countless other awards and records – it would be fitting for the 49ers to sign him for a day and let him retire as the greatest ever. Thank you #80 – I’m glad I that I had the opportunity to see your classy career from start to finish.


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