Kids, don’t try this at home.
“My first experience with football was not very good because I didn’t plan on playing football,” Rice said. “I was just playing hooky one day and I was a sophomore and decided not to go to class. And the principal—normally he does his rounds and I thought I had him down pretty good where he was going to be—he sort of walked up behind me and scared me.
“He noticed I could run real fast. So that’s how I got introduced to football. After I got disciplined, I got introduced to football and then after that everything just took off for me.”
Rice didn’t travel a conventional route to superstardom. He was a collegiate star at tiny Mississippi Valley State and was the 16th overall selection of the 49ers in the 1985 draft. He wound up a 10-time All-Pro with the 49ers and was selected for 13 Pro Bowls, 12 with San Francisco and one with the Oakland Raiders in 2002.
Perhaps his most impressive feat—of all of the myriad impressive feats—was catching 22 touchdown passes in just 12 games in the strike-shortened 1987 season, a record he held for 20 years until Randy Moss broke it for the New England Patriots in 2007 … playing in all 16 games, of course.
Rice is the NFL’s all-time leader with 1,549 receptions, 22,895 receiving yards, 197 touchdown catches, 207 overall touchdowns, 23,540 yards from scrimmage, 23,546 all-purpose yards and 29 playoff games. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.