Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice Talks Football Career, Importance of HBCUs

The term “GOAT” is thrown around a lot in sports, but in football, Jerry Rice is one of the greatest and most prolific scorers of all time.  

 

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Rice played 20 seasons in the NFL and played his last game in 2004. Yet, he still remains number 1 all-time with more than 1,500 career receptions and nearly 23,000 receiving yards. The Hall-of-Famer played for the San Francisco 49ers, Las Vegas Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.  

Now, he’s stepping into a new game. Rice is gearing up to play at the American Century Championship, the celebrity golf tournament held each year on the shores of Lake Tahoe in Nevada. He said with golf, regardless of the preparation you put in, “you never know” how you’ll play. “My mindset is that I really don’t know how my golf game is right now, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity of going out and competing.” 

When asked about the popularity of the term “GOAT,” Rice said it doesn’t just apply to football. “Well, GOAT is just not for athletes. It can be a front-line worker. It can be an entrepreneur. It can be people in other positions. Anybody that’s daring to be great,” he said. Displaying extreme humility, Rice also said he never considered himself the “Greatest Of All Time” and feels honored when the word is used to describe him and his career.  

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Nearly 17 years after Rice played his last game, he still remains the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions, yards, total yards, and total touchdowns. He said when he played, it was never about setting records but instead about his love for the game of football.  

The former NFL star entered his final season of the game at the age of 42 and he notes he would still play today if he could. “If I had a wish, I would probably say I would love to put that uniform back on of the San Franciso 49ers and get back on that football field,” he said. He also commended 43-year-old Tom Brady for continuing to play in the NFL despite his age.  

As a graduate of an HBCU, Mississippi Valley State, Rice said he left everything on the football field and doesn’t see a future in coaching. Despite this, he supports Deion Sanders, coach of Jackson State University, and Eddie George, the coach for Tennessee State University, as they bring attention to those historically Black institutions.  

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Rice received offers to play for large football schools like the University of Southern California and Notre Dame, but he chose an HBCU, citing their importance to the legacy of football. “I never wanted to let Mississippi Valley State down,” he said. “It was a pleasure to really play for an HBCU and I wouldn’t go back and change anything.” 

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