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Jerry Rice Biography

NFL Player Bio: Jerry Rice

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Normally when the topic of “Who is the best?” comes up, the debate is lively and heated. Unless the topic is “Who is the greatest wide receiver of all-time?” That conversation begins and ends with Jerry Rice--quite simply, the greatest who ever lived. Known for his off-the-charts work ethic, particularly his spartan offseason workouts, Rice played in the NFL for 20 seasons, quite remarkable for a WR.

Rice’s stats are mind-blowing. He caught 1549 balls for an incredible 22,895 yards with 208 total touchdowns. He had 75 or more receptions 13 times and an unheard-of 11 straight 1000-yard seasons. He made 13 Pro Bowls and is a 3-time Super Bowl Champion. The son of a mason, Rice credits work he did with his father for giving him such great hands. He starred at Mississippi Valley State University. Despite the obscurity of the school, Rice’s performance there from 1980-84 earned him some national attention, though his slow 40-time left most NFL scouts pessimistic. In the 1985 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers chose Rice in the first round with the 16th selection. Before long, Rice would make his presence felt.

His 1985 rookie season was a bit uneven, but despite only starting 4 games, Rice nearly reached 1000 yards receiving and his potential was clear. In 1986, Rice blossomed into full bloom--leading the NFL with 1570 yards and 15 touchdown passes. In 1987, he caught 22 touchdown passes. 1988 saw the 49ers make the Super Bowl against the Bengals. Rice caught 11 balls for 215 yards en route to a Super Bowl MVP award.


In 1989, Rice continued his run of success, as he was generally recognized as the best in the league by this point. He led the league again with 1483 yards and 17 touchdown catches and was a big part of the Niners going to yet another Super Bowl. He shined again, shredding Broncos defenders for 148 yards and 3 touchdown passes.

Picture of Jerry Rice

Rice caught 100 balls the following season. The 49ers were at the height of their supremacy, posting another 14-2 season. They failed, however, to get to their 3rd straight Super Bowl after losing to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game. Rice continued to dominate in the early-90’s. By early in the 1994 season, he was already the NFL’s all-time touchdown leader and hadn’t even come close to slowing down. Now catching passes by Steve Young, Rice had an incredible 1994 season, with 112 catches.

The 1994 season saw the 49ers in awesome form. In Super Bowl XXIX, they scorched the San Diego Chargers, as Rice got his third Super Bowl ring. He caught 10 balls, 3 of them for touchdowns. Illustrating Rice’s big-game ability, he had 512 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns in 3 Super Bowls--not bad against top-caliber teams.

In 1995, a time where you’d suspect Rice to be slowing down--he caught 122 balls for 1848 yards. The following season, he caught 108 passes, giving him an incredible 3-year run at the ages of 32-34, where he caught 342 passes. In 1997, however, he blew out his knee, limiting his action to two games. This broke an over-decade long stretch of consecutive starts. Age had appeared to rear its head. That wasn’t necessarily true, as Rice still managed to put together 6 more seasons with over 63 catches.

In Rice’s return season of 1998, he started all 16 games, catching 82 balls for 1157 yards. But for the first time since his rookie season, he failed to gain over 1000 yards in his next two seasons, despite starting every game. Terrell Owens had become the new big thing in San Francisco and Rice’s standing was a bit shaky at 38 years old.

At the end of the 2000 season, Rice signed with the Oakland Raiders, ending a 16-year run with the 49ers. Though 40 years old, Rice put up seasons of 83 and 92 catches and a pair of 1000-yard seasons. His numbers weren’t bad in 2003, with 63 catches and 869 yards. The Raiders, however, were tailspinning and Rice got a trade after 6 games in 2004. Rice would close the season with the Seattle Seahawks, before retiring after not being able to get a meaningful spot on an NFL team. In 2010, in his first year of eligibility, Rice was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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