Bleacher Report Featured Q&A: Jerry Rice
There are few football resumes that can come close to that of NFL Hall of Fame-wide receiver Jerry Rice.
A consummate professional in his 20-year career with the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks, Rice set the career records for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
In addition to winning three Super Bowls, Rice was named to 10 All-Pro first teams and 13 Pro Bowl rosters.
He was also named the greatest player of all time in a poll conducted by the NFL Network.
Now working for ESPN as a NFL analyst, Rice is also a spokesman for the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, a not-for-profit organization that looks to improve the image of chiropractic care.
Rice took time in a phone interview with Bleacher Report to speak about the wild passing numbers in the opening weeks of the season, the hot start for the San Francisco 49ers and his memories of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.
Bleacher Report: It's been amazing watching the first five weeks of football. The passing numbers have been through the roof. The first four weeks were the highest four passing weeks in NFL history.
How do you think Jerry Rice in his prime would do in today's action?
Jerry Rice: Well, first of all it's a dream come true for a receiver because you know the ball is going to be in the air.
You look at the quarterbacks that are out there, they're doing amazing things. You know with Cam Newton, he was able to break some records, do all that. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and all these guys are putting up outstanding numbers and I think it's because the ball is being in the hands of these receivers that they have playing the game today.
You look at Matt Stafford and Megatron (wide receiver Calvin Johnson) in Detroit. You look at Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson with the Texans. Cam Newton has Steve Smith. Out in Atlanta you have Roddy White and also Julio Jones as Matt Ryan's go-tos.
There's so many big-play receivers and big-play quarterbacks and I think that's why you see so many numbers being put up here in today's game.
B/R: Speaking of quick starts, you have two receivers, the New England Patriots' Wes Welker and the Carolina Panthers' Steve Smith, who are on track to break your (receiving) yardage record (of 1,848 yards in the 1995 season).
JR: Wes Welker, he's around 710 yards in five games (Wes Welker has 740 receiving yards after five games). I can't even fathom. I don't even remember coming close in five games to having what Steve Smith has when he goes with the phenom, rookie Cam Newton in Carolina (Steve Smith has 640 receiving yards after five games).
Records are meant to be broken, and if they should break my record, if anyone can break one of my records, I'll be the first to congratulate that individual.
San Francisco 49ers: 4-1 to Start the Year
B/R: I kind of want to switch it up a little bit…the San Francisco 49ers are 4-1 to start the season. How much have you enjoyed watching the team get off to this kind of start.
JR: At first I didn't understand the philosophy of it, because it felt like they were holding Alex Smith back. But I think with Jim Harbaugh, he wanted to give him a little bit of a piece of the pie, and not give it to him too fast.
I think he's bringing him along the right way.
He's orchestrating the offense, doing great things, but he has weapons. Crabtree, Delanie Walker, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore…I'm sure they're hoping to get Braylon Edwards back.
The defense is playing well. Carlos Rodgers making that interception, Patrick Willis, all of those guys.
It's good to see football starting to come back this way, and I think they've really got a good feeling now. I think that has a lot to do with Harbaugh.
B/R: They (the 49ers) have a tough matchup this week against the Detroit Lions before going into the bye week, how do you like the Niners chances of keeping up this strong early momentum?
JR: They have a tough task with Detroit coming up. Detroit is playing well. Considering that in 2008 they didn't win a football game, and in 2010 they lost their starting quarterback, and all of that, now they (Detroit Lions) have something very unique going on.
I'm still going to go with the 49ers. I'm going to stick with them.
I feel like with Jim Harbaugh and that defense, and also Alex Smith and the way he's playing right now, they're going to have a legitimate shot.
This is a great test for the 49ers. They need to see where they are right now.
Preseason Game Violence
B/R: I want to switch things from just the Niners to the whole Bay Area.
One of the big stories of the preseason was the game between the 49ers and the Oakland Raiders, and some of the violence that broke out between fans of the two teams.
What were your thoughts when you heard about this going on?
JR: That is something we're not going to tolerate. The league did what it had to do to prevent it from happening again.
As a fan, you want to be able to go to a football game, you want to feel secure, you want to be able to just watch the game, root for your team, and that's the way it should be.
B/R: You're in a unique position of having played for both teams. How do you look at the rivalry?
JR: It's a good rivalry, and there's nothing wrong with a good rivalry.
You still have to police yourself, you have to respect the game. It got a little bit out of hand.
That's brings me to the Dodgers-Giants baseball game, the incident that happened there. You should be able to go anywhere to support your team and not feel threatened by anyone.
Remembering Al Davis
B/R: The league mourned the loss of Al Davis this past weekend. What are some memories you have of interacting with him when you were with the team?
JR: He was just a fun guy. Very knowledgeable about the game of football.
He would take pressure off the players in dealing with the media, because he wanted the players to be able to focus on football.
There's a myth about him being a bad guy, that's not true. He just wanted to win, he stood behind his motto, "Just win, baby," and the commitment to excellence. I think the players also played like Al Davis. He was a renegade, he was one of those guys, and the players went out and played hard.
If you played the Oakland Raiders you knew you had been in a battle.
Al Davis' Legacy
B/R: What do you think his legacy will be?
JR: I think his legacy is the AFL, and all of that. He made football what it is today. He went against the rules. Even if you aren't a Raider fan, you owe Al Davis for the great games that you're watching today.
Wide Receiver Comparison
B/R: I'm going to switch it over, to talk about players today. Which receiver today do you think compares to you?
JR: Oh my goodness…that's something we never like to do, compare each other.
You look at Megatron (Calvin Johnson), Andre Johnson with the Texans, Larry Fitzgerald. Their work effort and jumping ability and being able to catch the ball in the middle and do something with it. All three of those guys have an attitude that "I'm not going to be denied."
Same with Wes Welker. He's not a big guy, but he has a big heart and I think that's why he's having so much success on the football field.
Who Would He Like to Catch Passes from Today?
B/R: You've had a chance to play with two Hall of Fame, All-World quarterbacks in Joe Montana and Steve Young. If you were playing in the league today, which quarterback would you like to be catching passes from?
JR: Probably Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. They throw beautiful, big spirals and their decision-making on the football field is just unbelievable. They really don't hold the ball in their hands that long.
Watching Your Back
B/R: I wanted to give you a chance to talk about your work with the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. What do you think the average person doesn't think about when it comes to taking care of their back.
JR: I think a lot of people are a little scared, they're not aware of the procedures.
I played the game for 20 years, and I think that kept me on the football field, being adjusted. Getting hit so many times, being all out of whack, and going in to see my chiropractor kept me back on the football field.
Also, doing "Dancing with the Stars," you know, being in an awkward position, I used a chiropractor. Once we travel with ESPN right now from the east coast to the west coast, being on an airplane for three hours, your back is going to get out of whack.
Getting adjusted can get rid of that stress on your back so that you can continue to be active and feel good about your body.
I train and run five to 10 miles every day, and I still see a chiropractor.
I want people to know if they have any hurting in their back, or any tingling or anything like that, go see a chiropractor and help yourself feel better about your body and take some of that pain away.
B/R: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us.
JR: Ok. Take care.