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Catching up with Jerry Rice

Thursday, March 27th, 2014
Shaun Savarese
  • Shaun Savarese
  • Evening Sun Sports Editor
  • Email: ssavarese@evensun.com
  • Twitter: @evesunshaun

 

As it is Dynasty Month on NFL Network and because it just so happens to be San Francisco 49ers week, I have been watching a number of specials on Jerry Rice. Rice is unquestionably the greatest receiver to play football, if not the greatest player. His work ethic and dedication was unmatched. Though the NFL has changed to open up passing numbers, there is nobody close to the statistical collection of Rice.

The six-foot-two-inch, 200 lb., 51 year-old, amassed 1,549 catches in his career, racking up 22,895 total yards. That is nearly 15 yards per catch. Rice is just three touchdowns shy of 200 for his career.

His best season was 1995. He had 122 grabs for 1,848 yards and 15 touchdowns. His best scoring season, was with Joe Montana in 1987, when he had 22 touchdowns.

These are just a few of Jerry Rice’s staggering statistics. To see them all click here.

While watching the Rice documentaries, Steve Young appeared. Young threw Jerry more total touchdowns than Montana. Sitting in awe, Young recalls 1995 and the Super Bowl and defeating San Diego, then he recalls Rice.

Three days after Number 80 caught ten balls for 149 yards and three touchdowns to lead the San Francisco 49ers to a win in Super Bowl XXIX, he was back at work. Young went to Candlestick park three days after the big game and nobody was there. He made his way back to the field and saw something unthinkable. Jerry Rice was on the field running routes.

That’s what defined him, his work ethic. I remember reading stories about his intense workouts and drills. He caught hundreds of balls from a left-handed assistant coach to gain a feel for the left handed spin of quarterback Steve Young.

His training sessions would begin earlier and occur more often than 90 percent of the league, and his attention to detail was unparalleled.

Starting a new job is one of the most stressful things a person can undertake. It can be difficult to remain motivated and at times I feel the euphoria of busyness cut towards anxiety. Scheduling, organizing, managing my time… in a new place, with new faces… its tough.

But, Jerry Rice worked hard year round. When he came to the league he set a goal for himself, he wanted to be the best football player he could be. Growing up, Jerry was my idol. I loved to watch him outperform everyone he lined up against. In an era in the league defined by toughness and grit, he was graceful. Gliding into position, under pinpoint passes, catching balls in traffic, deflecting hits that would be flagged today, and more often than most, ending up in the endzone.

Steve Young admitted that Rice was in the conversation for greatest of all-time, but he offered an explanation. Maybe when after you’ve accomplished a feat, a grand feat, you don’t stop working. That’s what Rice was doing three days after winning the Super Bowl.

I remember reading an article in Sports Illustrated about how quickly Rice recovered from an injury, and one part stuck with me. He was so fed up with being stagnant and unable to rehab, that he snuck into the garage in the dead of night and cut off his own cast. He was in physical therapy the next week, working harder than ever.

So, as I venture into the sports editors’ realm of early mornings at the office and long nights in the field. I look to my mentor, Jerry Rice and keep working.