San Francisco 49ers legend returned to his hometown of Crawford, Miss., Thursday, Nov. 14th, to be honored by Allstate Insurance and the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a “Hometown Hall of FamerTM.” Although the high school where the ceremony was held now has a different name than when Rice attended, the halls he roamed and the hill he used to run during football practice were all too familiar to him.
The crowd ranged from ecstatic students and old teammates to Rice’s siblings and even his third grade teacher. Allstate representative Robert Emmich hit the nail on the head when he told the audience that “there is no name I can think of that evokes more childhood football memories than , and Allstate is so proud to be a sponsor of this great program that celebrates these true hometown heroes.”
Brock Richards from Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises then spoke to the crowd about the importance of hard work and not giving up on your dreams. “Jerry did not get to the Hall of Fame solely because of how well he played the game of football, but how he played the game of life,” he explained.
Rice had a very special introduction as plaque presenter and former Mississippi Valley State University football announcer Bo Brown ran through all of Jerry’s impressive stats and records. There was a standing ovation as Rice entered the gym, and the speech he gave about the importance of having a solid work ethic and keeping focused no matter what your goals are was certainly one to remember.
Rice choked up as he thanked his mother, who was seated in the first row, for the love and support that she gave Rice and his siblings throughout their childhood. Rice also shared that on his way to the school that morning, he stopped by his father’s grave to say thanks for instilling in him the values that have made him the successful role model he is today.
After the ceremony, Rice shook hands, took pictures and talked to each person eagerly waiting to meet him. He spent a great deal of time with the high school football team, posing for photos and giving advice about succeeding not only in their upcoming game, but also in life. Seeing where Rice came from and hearing the obstacles he was able to overcome by work ethic and dedication alone was even more impressive than all of his stats and records.
A native of Crawford, Rice was a standout receiver at Mississippi Valley State University. In 1985, the San Francisco 49ers selected Rice as their first-round draft pick. He went on to play 20 seasons in the NFL, more than any other wide receiver to date. Rice is widely considered to be the greatest receiver in NFL history, and among the greatest NFL players at any position.
In 1986, Rice caught 86 passes for a league-leading 1,570 yards. He also led the NFL in touchdown catches with 15. This marked the first of 11 straight 1,000-yard seasons for Rice who also recorded double-digit receiving touchdown totals in nine of the next 10 seasons. That 1986 season began what is arguably the finest stretch by any receiver in NFL history.
Rice owns virtually every significant receiving mark. Some of the more notable career records include receptions (1,549); receiving yards (22,895 yards); most 1,000-yard receiving seasons (14); total touchdowns (208); and combined net yards (23,546). By the time of his retirement in 2006, Rice had played in eight conference championships and four Super Bowls.
Rice, who was named first-team All-Pro 11 consecutive seasons and voted to 13 Pro Bowls, is also a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Teams of the 1980s and 1990s and NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
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