In some sports there are questions about who the best player on the planet is or was. But in others, most people agree on the best player in league history. And when it comes to the NFL, that player is Jerry Rice. While there are obviously some outliers who may go with guys like Joe Montana, Tom Brady or a laundry list of others, a majority will go with Rice. But not only was Rice the best, he took an amazing and inspirational journey to the top.
During high school in his native state of Mississippi, his mother actually wouldn’t let him join the football team. Instead, he was a track and field athlete and basketball player. But after his track coach alerted the football coach of his speed (and he consulted with him mother, I’m sure) Rice was eventually a member of the football team. Due to his late entry into the sport in high school, he received a total of zro scholarship offers and walked on to Mississippi Valley State University to play ball.
But only a few years later, most Div 1 schools probably wish they would have threw him a bone, this is because what Rice did in college is still legendary to this day. He set numerous college records for about every wide receiving category and simply did whatever he wanted on the field, including once catching 24 balls in a single game and scoring 5 TDs in a game on numerous occasions.
This amazing college career got the attention of the NFL scouts ahead of the 1985 NFL Draft. However, his questionable speed (4.6 40 yard dash) kept most teams uninterested in him. However, the 49ers were most definitely interested in him and traded up in the draft to take him, and that turned out to be a pretty great move.
Though he struggled at times with drops in his rookie year, he was still impressive and took home the NFC Rookie of the Year award. But as of his sophomore season on, Rice would be a dominant force to be reckoned with. His sophomore season was the first of six times in his career that he would lead the NFL in both receiving yards and TDs. Now, let’s fast forward over two decades from this point and look at his stunning career as a whole.
Those who argue Rice is not the best just have to take a look at his resume. Not only did he win 3 Super Bowls, make 13 Pro Bowls and 12 All Pro teams, his stats are second to none. He is the all-time leader in basically every category including receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns and more. And on top of this, he holds more than 100 unique NFL record, which is more than anyone else by a mile. He was also named the best player of all time by the NFL Network.
To go from zero scholarship offers to the best player in NFL history is truly amazing.