In any sport, fans can spend hours arguing about “the greatest player of all time”. Fortunately, in American football, this polemic was brought to an end in 2010, when the NFL Network released a list of hundreds of the best players in history.
Rays of glory in American football are known to be more than supportive to quarterbacks, which is quite logical: this position is the starting point of attack of any team, the outcome of the game largely depends on the decisions of the quarterback, especially in the current century, increasingly oriented to the speed and entertainment. And yet, the list of the voting results of the players themselves was headed not by the quarterback, but by the receiver – by Jerry Rice.
Rice grew up in a working family in Crawford, Mississippi. His father worked as a bricklayer, and Jerry believes that he trained his golden hands in his childhood, when he and his brother helped their father on laying bricks, moving them through two floors. The circumstances that forced the boy to do football are curious. There is a legend that the headmaster came to the Rice home because of Jerry’s truant lesson. Seeing the threat, the guy did not hesitate to run away, using all his forces.
Seeing the speed with which the truant flees from him, the director gave him the right to choose: punishment or entry into the school football team. Jerry chose football.
From 1981 to 1984, Rice played for the University of Michigan Valley State, where he was nicknamed “World”, because there was no ball in the world that he could not catch.
At one time, Delta Devils made noise throughout the country, gaining an average of more than 59 points per match. Rice caught 17 passes at 199 yards against Southern, 17 at 294 yards against Kentucky State and 15 at 285 yards against Jackson State, which MVSU did not win since 1954. Rice was included in all possible symbolic teams, and took ninth place in the vote for Heisman Trophy.
There was not one aspect in the art of the receiver in which Rice did not achieve absolute perfection; he was always there, where it was required at the right time and was just as effective in blocking as at the receiving.
Jerry was a real workaholic and gave himself to training with fanaticism, sometimes even repelling some teammates. For 20 years in the league, he did not make a lot of friends, but thanks to the iron regime he missed only 10 matches of the regular season.
On August 7, 2010, Rice was entered in the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, and on September 20 of the same year the 80th number was permanently out of circulation in San Francisco.
In his 20-year career, Rice played in 303 games – more than anyone except for kickers and punters.
1,549 receptions of Rice is 307 more than the second-ranking player in the history of long-time Kansas City Cheif’s tight end Tony Gonzalez.
The list of Rice’s athletic achievements can be continued indefinitely, but we absolutely do not need it in this case. Jerry Rice is the best player in the history of the NFL and that’s the bottom line!
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