For Black History Month, we will spotlight some of the greatest athletes in Historically Black College and University History. Today we spotlight a player from Mississippi considered to be one of the greatest football players of all time.
Jerry Rice‘s football career started his sophomore year when he was caught ditching class. A school official suggested Rice play sports due to his speed from running away from him. That led to the start of a fantastic High School sports career which included Football, Basketball, and Track. After graduation, Rice was headed to Mississippi Valley State, a small HBCU in Itta Bena, Ms. From there, the legend of “World” was born.
Rice played under legendary head coach Archie Cooley, who’s “Gunslinger” spread offense broke college records. Rice and redshirt freshman quarterback Willie Totten was known as the “The Satellite Express” due to Valley’s record-breaking air attack. Rice had a record-setting year in 1983. The season included NCAA records for receptions (102) and receiving yards (1,450), and was named a first-team Division I-AA All-American. He also set a single-game NCAA record by catching 24 passes against Louisiana’s Southern University. As a senior in 1984, he broke his own Division I-AA records for receptions (112) and receiving yards (1,845). His 27 touchdown receptions in that 1984 season set the NCAA record for all divisions
He finished his collegiate career with 301 catches for 4,693 yards and 50 touchdowns. His NCAA record for total career touchdown receptions stood until 2006
Rice was highly coveted by The San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh who had already won 2 Super Bowl championships with QB Joe Montana. Knowing that he needed to improve the wide receiver position, Walsh and the 49ers traded its first two picks in the 1985 NFL Draft to position themselves to draft Rice.
Rice went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors by the United Press International, bringing in 49 catches for 927 yards. By 1987, Rice was winning NFL MVP and the 49ers won the Super Bowl in the 1988-89 and 89-90 seasons (In 1988, Rice won Super Bowl MVP, catching 11 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown). Rice would win another Super Bowl in 1995. Rice would continue his career with the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks before he retired in 2004.
Rice would retire with the following records:
1,549 career receptions
22,895 career receiving yards
197 career receiving touchdowns
208 total touchdowns
23,546 career all-purpose yards
Rice career achievements include
3× Super Bowl champion (XXIII, XXIV, XXIX)
Super Bowl MVP (XXIII)
13× Pro Bowl (1986–1996, 1998, 2002)
10× First-team All-Pro (1986–1990, 1992–1996)
2× Second-team All-Pro (1991, 2002)
Bert Bell Award (1987)
2× NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1987, 1993)
6× NFL receiving yards leader (1986, 1989, 1990, 1993–1995)
2× NFL receptions leader (1990, 1996)
6× NFL receiving touchdowns leader (1986, 1987, 1989–1991, 1993)
Sports Illustrated Player of the Year (1986)
NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
First-team NFL 1980s All-Decade Team
First-team NFL 1990s All-Decade Team
San Francisco 49ers No. 80 retired
NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year (1985)
2× First-team I-AA All-American (1983, 1984)