With former San Francisco 49ers great Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice’s #80 jersey being retired during halftime at Monday night’s game, this is a good time to blog about my meeting with the NFL legend. His 1,549 receptions rank him at the top of NFL statistics as does his 22,895 receiving yards, 197 touchdown receptions, and 208 total touchdowns.
I’ve had several opportunities to meet Rice, but the one I took was many years ago in September, 1994 at the opening of the Great Mall of the Bay Area. This was a most exciting time to meet him as the 49ers had won the Super Bowl earlier that year with Rice as a major factor. He was at the top of his game. Rice had also been instrumental in the 49ers earlier back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 1988 and 1989.
Rice was in a very good mood at the Great Mall. Although he was a sport’s superstar, he was very friendly, humble, and took the time to speak with me. Here is a photo of Rice and I conversing together. I told him I worked in Santa Clara where the 49ers have trained for many years. We spoke about the city and also about his role in the Mall opening. He was a busy man, but he didn’t seem rushed or put off. I was impressed with his down to earth and friendly manner.
After football, Rice went on to compete in “Dancing With The Stars” where he was paired with Anna Trebunskaya and reached the final two before losing to professional Cheryl Burke and singer Drew Lachey. Jerry Rice is a class act and a nice person. He deserves all the recognition he receives. I’ll be watching half-time as the 49ers retire #80.