I sat down with the legendary, Jerry Rice, in Redwood City, California. The interview is for the fifth episode of In Depth. One of eight children, the Hall of Famer recalls his humble beginnings in Crawford, Mississippi. He shares some memorable moments from his illustrious 20-year career from the disappointing start of his rookie season to his three Super Bowl championships with the San Francisco 49ers. The interview takes an emotional turn as Rice remembers sitting at his former wife's bedside while she lay in a coma and how that changed his outlook on life. Well known for his extensive workout regimen, Rice takes me for a run on the grueling 2-1/2 mile hill where Rice used to train as a 49er.
At the start of his rookie season, Rice recalls his deep frustration with dropping so many balls. "One of your teammates I was talking to vividly remembers seeing you in the locker room sitting down crying." Rice explains, "I was devastated because I didn't know what was going on because I was accustomed to catching footballs...Why is this happening now?"
Although he went on to become the greatest offensive players the NFL had ever seen, Rice knew that his time with the 49ers had inevitably reached its end. I asked, "What are your thoughts on how things ended with the organization?" Rice replies: "I knew the clock was ticking, but when it happened, I was hurt because I thought I would end my career with the San Francisco 49ers. That's what I wanted to do. That was my team." His career was anything but over when he subsequently crossed the Bay to wear the silver and black of the Oakland Raiders. I asked Rice if he had any negative feelings: "No resentment or anything like that but I think it just gave me - lit that fire under me to prove them wrong."
What separated Rice from the rest of his teammates, and opposing players, was his insatiable hunger to be the best. "Is it true you would be irritated when you had to take a day off?" Rice admits, "I hated that. I hated having a day off because I felt like it cut into what I was trying to prepare to do ...so those two a days, I looked forward to it."
The interview takes a somber turn when I bring up the time when Rice's then wife, Jackie, nearly died giving birth to their third child: "How close was she to losing her life?" Rice: "Very close. Very close and it was something that we never fathomed at all."
"What do you think you learned?" Rice confesses, "That it's just not all about football...If I could go back and change a lot during my career, I probably would."
Rice's love of the game is never more evident when he says, "You could have paid me $5.00 and I would have went out there and played football because I love doing it and just entertaining so many people and just trying to be the best that I can be." And when Rice reflects on the unparalleled success of his twenty seasons in the NFL, he seems content: "When I look at my career, I can say I always gave 100 percent. I never cheated the fans. I never cheated my teammates, and I was able to just go out there and play my best football."
Jerry Rice describes why chasing down wild horses as a kid helped condition him for a future in the NFL.
Jerry Rice recalls the day he was caught playing hooky and why it made his principal encourage him to play football.
Jerry Rice explains why he and teammate Tim Brown questioned the Super Bowl game plan of Coach Bill Callahan.
Jerry Rice reveals that he would wake up at 4:00 am to hit golf balls before morning practice with the 49ers.
Jerry Rice takes me for a run on the grueling 2.5 mile hill where Rice used to train.
Jerry Rice takes a question from former Chicago Bears Linebacker Brian Urlacher.