Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Sep 2005

Rice to Call it a Career

"Jerry Rice said he didn't want to play if he wasn't going to be at least the No. 3 receiver for the Denver Broncos. Informed that wasn't going to be the case, the NFL's all-time leading receiver opted to retire rather than ride the bench."

Hmmm. It's amazing what Rice has been able to do as a 40-something wide receiver, but I'm not sure if he's a No. 3 receiver on any team in the league.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 05 Sep 2005

23 comments, Last at 09 Sep 2005, 3:58pm by Pat


by mathesond (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 2:39pm

Funny, not half an hour earlier I read MMQB, which detailed a conversation King had with Rice regarding Jerry's acceptance of his role on the team.

by MET (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 3:23pm

At least he's realised it's time to call it a day rather than sully his good name by having a mediocre season as a fourth or fifth string receiver.

by Moon Hippo (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 5:39pm

Well... He sullied it quite enough last year with Seattle anyway - aside from one or two good plays on MNF against Dallas.

Its kinda depressing though - the greatest football player ever has called it a day. He was the best, and he will be missed. Although I do kinda wish he'd called it a day after the Oakland Superbowl loss a few years ago...

by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 5:42pm

Yah, you could hear him saying about retiring, "I'm happy with the decision", but you could tell he was NOT. He sounded lost. Poor schmuck.

Odd to feel pity for a guy who's retiring at 42.

by marc (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 6:20pm

re #2, how does anything Rice does sully what he did in the past? he could play this year and drop every pass, become a serial rapist/murderer, publicly denounce the NFL and he'd still be one of the greatest players in the history of the game. I understand it's nicer to think of him as always being great, but anything he does cannot possibly in any way change what he has already accomplished. It's a simple reality of time and space that once something is done it is just that, done.

by MET (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 6:55pm

Ok sully may have been the wrong choice of word in this case but I just wouldn't like to see him getting hardly any playing time after all he's done. However rape and murder may turn some people against him!

by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 8:13pm

I think Rice's obvious love for the game is pretty awesome. It's certainly more impressive than the bunch of rookies holding out each year.

by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 8:53pm

"However ... murder may turn some people against him!"
Baltimore loves Ray-ray.

by Kami (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 9:43pm

Yeah, when I think of O.J. Simpson all that comes to mind are the rushing yards...

While I don't think sitting on the bench would sully his past accomplishments, rape and murder just might do the trick..heh

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 12:01am

So the lesson here is you should commit your crimes of murder before your carreer is over?

by KL (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 12:39am

One of my favorite things about Rice is that if you took all of his accomplishments and cut them in half he'd probably still he a Hall of Fame player.

775 receptions (13th all time)
11448 yards (13th all time)
98 TDs (5th all time - although soon to be passed by Harrison, Owens and Moss)

And that doesn't even consider any postseason football.

by OMO (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 8:24am

Back on topic.

Jerry Rice IMO is not the best WR of all time...but the best FOOTBALL player of all time.

The distance he has put between his stats and whoever is in the #2 spot is insane. My favorite line about Jerry Rice is: "...he is the Wayne Gretzky of football".

It will be fun to talk football with my Grandchildren and say..."Jerry Rice...oh yea...I saw him play...lots of times...the guy was amazing!"

by jack (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 8:54am

"Jerry Rice IMO is not the best WR of all time…but the best FOOTBALL player of all time."

For saying that the ghosts of Jim Thorpe, Don Hutson, and Red Grange are going to gang eat you in your sleep.

by sippican (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 1:22pm

Hey OMO- Being the Wayne Gretzky of Football would make Rice the second best, at best.

Bobby Orr, baby, Bobby Orr.

by zach (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 1:27pm

i don't buy that he quit because he couldn't be a #3 receiver. i think he would play even as a #5 or 6 receiver if someone let him. my guess is that, in reality, he was cut, but out of respect for the guy's carrer, the broncos are calling his newfound unemployment a retirement.

by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 3:06pm

I never begrudge a player for playing out every last drop of game he has left in him.

That's what I would do if I were a pro athlete. Put off joining "the real world" for as long as possible.

I will not remember Emmitt Smith as a Cardinal or Jerry Rice as a Seahawk/Bronco. I will remember these (and all other) star athletes for the team(s) that the bulk of their success was accomplished with.

I hate when commentators/fans complain that a player is hanging on and ruining his reputation.

by Jesus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 3:13pm

Rice was certainly very fortunate I put him in San Francisco, where he caught balls thrown to him from Joe Montana... Hall of Famer. & Then he caught balls thrown to him from Steve Young, another Hall of Famer.

If Rice spent his career in Tampa Bay, or Cinncinnati -is there a chance you might not have known who Jerry Rice is?

by Vlad (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 3:18pm

"I hate when commentators/fans complain that a player is hanging on and ruining his reputation."

I agree. If he wants to 'sully his reputation', well, it's his reputation to sully if he wants. It doesn't belong to the fans or the commentators.

by Steve (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 5:14pm

"Rice was certainly very fortunate I put him in San Francisco, where he caught balls thrown to him from Joe Montana… Hall of Famer. & Then he caught balls thrown to him from Steve Young, another Hall of Famer.

If Rice spent his career in Tampa Bay, or Cinncinnati -is there a chance you might not have known who Jerry Rice is?"

Some people say the same about Montana and Young. In fact, Young actually spent a bit of time in Tampa and wasn't exactly throwing up HOF stats. And let's not forget that Rice also caught a subtantial number of passes in SF from the likes of Matt Cavanaugh and Steve Bono.

by Jeremy (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2005 - 10:20am

Why is it that no one seems to care about passages like the following from MMQB?

"I think one of the most interesting things about my conversation with Jerry Rice in Denver camp -- and why I hope he decides to accept the fourth-receiver role with Denver -- was his admission, and Mike Shanahan's, that Rice would not have been a good Bronco two or three years ago. Shanahan told me he wouldn't have wanted the Rice who'd have been a pain in the neck if he didn't get six or eight catches a week."

Is selfishness acceptable from the greatest receiver of all time, as long as he doesn't pull out a Sharpie? I don't get it.

by willis4mvp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2005 - 12:07pm

re #20
All WRs worth a damn are selfish and want the ball every down, whether you hear about it or not. The Owens Sharpie incident wasn't really selfishness either, it was celebratory and way overblown by the sportswriters, talk radio and stuck up, latently racist fans all over. The team didn't care about the sharpie thing until every reporter on earth started asking about it.

by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 2:36pm

Can anyone dispute this statement? Jerry Rice's me-first attitude hurt both the Denver Broncos team & other young Denver WR's.

1) Rice wanted to keep playing so Denver helped him out by signing him.
2) During training camp & preseason, having Rice on the roster took reps away from other young WR's trying to make the team.
3) When Shanahan informed him that he made the team but as a 4th or 5th WR, Rice refused to accept that role with the team & quit.
4) With an unexpected lack of depth at WR, Denver was forced to sign ex-Bear, ex-Pat David Terrell.

Denver did him a favor by signing the old man & he thanked the organization by quitting on his teammates.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 3:58pm

Can anyone dispute this statement?

I'll give it a whirl. :)

Keep in mind that Rice was offered that position because he was better than the receivers they cut, not because of any legacy he has. I doubt the reps that Rice saw really hurt the other receivers.

There's no guarantee that Denver would've kept one of the other receivers they had over Rice. In fact, the fourth or fifth WR spot is often times picked up on the waiver wire. I don't think the Broncos were upset about picking up Terrell. I also don't think they would've preferred to have any of the WRs they had during training camp, especially considering Triandos Luke, the last WR to be cut, hasn't been picked up by another other team, so I think they could've resigned him.

I think the fact that they offered the job to Rice basically indicated that if he was willing to accept such a small role, they'd be glad to have him - otherwise they needed to go and search the waiver wire, because they didn't think they had a viable 5th WR anyway.