On this day in 2006, Jerry Rice, the greatest NFL receiver of all time, signed a one-day contract with his first NFL team, to retire as a San Francisco 49er.
Rice was selected in the first round of the 1985 NFL Draft, from Mississippi Valley State University. The HBCU product quickly established himself as a force on a powerhouse 49er team that was one year removed from a Super Bowl XIX victory. During his time as a member of the 49ers, Rice would exhibit the greatest showcase of offensive proficiency the NFL had ever seen. Rice would go on to catch 1,281 passes for over 19,000 yards and 176 touchdowns. He would also win three Super Bowls with the team, be named MVP of Super Bowl XXIII, and be selected to the Pro Bowl 12 times.
Rice’s career continued to flourish after he left the 49ers when he took his talents across the bay to the Oakland Raiders. Four years and one Super Bowl appearance later, Rice had a less than ideal season with the Seahawks before gracefully bowing out.
The time spent at San Francisco was clearly his most productive and most important. For that reason, Rice elected to sign a one-day contact to officially retire as a San Francisco 49er. To commemorate Rice’s retirement, the 49ers’ front office placed a $1,985,806.49 price tag on that contract. This amount was symbolic in that represented the year that Rice was drafted (1985), his jersey number (#80), the year that he retired (“6”, for 2006), and the 49 cents, naturally represented his team, the 49ers.
As respected as Rice was on the field, his reputation took some notable hits after he retired.
In 2015, he came under fire for admitting to usage of the product Stickum, an adhesive used by players to aid in catching passes. Rice used the product throughout his career, despite the NFL banning its use in 1981. He then attempted to justify its use by proclaiming (erroneously) “Everyone was using it.”
In 2016, Rice criticized then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games. After receiving a barrage of negative feedback from the Kaepernick comment, Rice would change his mind, declaring that he now supports Kaepernick fully, and also wishes that all races of people could coexist peacefully.
In spite of a couple missteps, Jerry Rice’s on-field accomplishments will never be forgotten. He is considered by most experts to not only be the best receiver to ever play the game, but possibly one of the greatest football players ever.
Since retiring from the NFL, Rice has become the face of 30sec.io, an artificial intelligence system that delivers sports-related information on demand. He is an avid golfer, and enjoys partaking in “Mimosa Sundays” with his family.