Jerry Rice and Golf: Five Reasons NFL Hall of Famer Could Be Great
As the Hall of Fame welcomed Jerry Rice into their hallowed club this past weekend, the world watched the greatest player in the history of the NFL write the final chapter of his football career.
Forevermore, Rice's elegance and grace on the field will be nothing but a encapsulated memory, a reel with Steve Sabol's smooth voice narrating the exploits of the greatest player of all time.
The saying goes, "When life closes one door, it opens another."
Though trite, no saying better describes Jerry Rice these days.
Rice has traded in his cleats and playbook for a caddie and a bag of clubs in an attempt to make a run at a Nationwide Tour card.
Why should we believe he can do it? Here are five reasons:
1.) Competitive Edge
Outside of Michael Jordan, has there ever been a more competitive professional athlete? As Rice made clear during his Hall of Fame induction speech, the root of his competitiveness may have come from a different place than most would have guessed.
"I'm here to tell you that the fear of failure is the engine that has driven me throughout my entire life. It flies in the faces of all these sports psychologists who say you have to let go of your fears to be successful and that negative thoughts will diminish performance," Rice said last Saturday.
Ironic that one of the world's most successful athletes would be fueled by the fear of failure, but that fear should translate well to the golf course.
Golf, a game whose stars rely less on athletic prowess and more on muscle-memory and finely tuned technique, offers a more level playing field than other professional sports.
This gives Rice a distinct advantage. His fear of failure and refusal to disappoint will ultimately manifest itself in golf course dominance.
2.) Short Irons
I had the chance to chat with Rice a few days ago and asked him what he thought the strength of his game was.
After a brief hesitation (I'm not sure I've ever spoken to a more humble superstar), Rice said softly, "I'd have to say my short irons. I'm confident in my control with them, so I'd have to say those.'
For a guy as humble as Rice, and with such an advanced golf game, it's safe to assume that from 125 yards and in, Rice will find his target.
3.) Knowing What It Takes To Win
Jerry Rice won three Super Bowls, went to 13 Pro Bowls, was named to the All-1980s and to the All-1990s teams. He holds every major receiving record. Rice, if nothing else, is a born winner.
That innate quality to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds are without question the most important element to becoming a world-class golfer.
Hit one into the bunker? No problem, I love my sand wedge.
Stuck behind a tree? I'll hit it left-handed.
Jerry Rice has always loved facing and overcoming challenges. Golf is an ultimate test of facing adversity and rising above it.
4.) Friends in High Places
One of the funniest shows of this year was The Golf Channel's series on swing coach Hank Haney working with NBA legend Charles Barkley.
Barkley famously has a hitch in his swing that prevents him from hitting the ball more than a hundred or so yards.
After weeks of work with Haney, considered by many to be golf's best swing coach, Barkley was able to work out most of the kinks in his swing.
As one of the world's most famous football players, Jerry Rice has access to the Hank Haneys of the golf world.
After seeing what Haney could do for Barkley, imagine what he could for a guy who's already a scratch golfer?
5.) He Can Only Go Up from Here
In early May, Rice made his professional golf debut at a Nationwide Tour event in North Carolina. The results were abysmal.
Rice shot the highest score in a Nationwide Tour event since 1992, when he dropped a 92-burger on day one. Things didn't get much better on day two, when he was officially DQ'd from the tournament after his caddie used a range-finding scope to check yardages.
Rice seemed to find the whole experience amusing, saying, "A rookie mistake I made. So, I got DQ'd."
From here on out, no matter what Rice does during competitive play, he'll turn in a better performance than he did his first go 'round.
P&G Take It to the House
Jerry Rice has teamed up with Proctor & Gamble's "Take It to the House" program. Be sure to check out the Facebook page here: