Rice to Monk to Rice to Canton

Rice to Monk to Rice to Canton

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Just prior to his enshrinement in 2010, the Pro Football Hall of Fame received Jerry Rice's helmet from the 1986 season. The circumstance surrounding the helmet is rather amusing as the path it took to arrive in Canton is not what one would expect.

Rice, in his second NFL season, recorded 86 receptions for 1,570 yards and 15 TDs. For his efforts, the Mississippi Valley State product earned the first of 11 first-team All-Pro selections. He also earned the first Pro Bowl berth of his career.

Following the annual NFL all-star game played in Hawaii on February 1, 1987, many of the NFC players were exchanging jerseys and other items in the locker room. One of the players enjoying this yearly ritual was Washington Redskins wide receiver Art Monk, although some may say that he took the custom a bit too far.

Do you follow us on Twitter? The first fans to see a glimpse of Rice's helmet in our collection were the Hall's devoted followers on Twitter. We gave a quick glimpse of the helmet moments after our curatorial staff opened the shipment last week. Follow us @ProFootballHOF.

"I was collecting helmets at the time and I saw his (Rice's) helmet sitting there," recounts Monk. "I knew he was going to be the player he turned out to be and I wanted something of his for my collection."

Without any word to Rice, Monk placed the helmet in his bag and took it home. For many years to come, the Redskins Hall of Famer would tease Rice about the helmet. Monk's feelings about how he came into possession of the helmet, however, began to slowly change as the years passed.

"I was young at the time but as I got older, I began to have a greater appreciation for items or memorabilia from one's career," Monk confessed in a telephone interview today. "After he was elected into the Hall of Fame, I called him up and told him I would send the helmet back to him."

Monk did just that. In turn, Rice decided to send it to Canton. Now, the helmet, having passed through the talented hands of two Hall of Fame receivers, was sent to Canton where thousands of visitors can "catch" a glimpse of the artifact.

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