Jerry Rice had a rather successful NFL career. In a 20-year NFL career, Rice had 1,549 receptions, 22,895 receiving yards and 197 receiving touchdowns -- all NFL records. He won three Super Bowls, made 13 Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl MVP. It is easy to say Rice is the greatest wide receiver of all-time. In fact, in 2010, the NFL Network ranked Rice No. 1 on its The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players list.

Now a decade retired, Rice has the opportunity to view the wide receiver position as a spectator, critic and coach.

"Julio Jones, Roddy White, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Percy Harvin," Rice says when asked to name some of the modern receivers he admires. "There are a lot of receivers out there. I just look at those guys and appreciate their talent and what they do on the football field."

One player in particular who Rice scrutinizes is Johnson. The Lions receiver is only 28, but his 579 receptions and 9,492 receiving yards in seven-plus seasons is nothing to ignore. Johnson is a much taller and heavier receiver, although he lacks Rice's speed. Rice notes Johnson's unique athleticism and "Megatron" qualities.

"He can take the coverage off a secondary, he can out-jump you and he can strike fear into opposing defenses," Rice says.

On the opposite end, Rice can connect to the defensive backs of the current NFL. For two decades, Rice burned and embarrassed most of the cornerbacks thrown at him. However, there are certain modern defensive backs Rice would have loved to test his talents against.

"[Patrick] Peterson from Arizona, [Richard] Sherman from the Seattle Seahawks, [Darrelle] Revis," Rice says of notable cornerbacks. "You look at these guys and they feel like they're shutdown corners. You always want to go up against the best. I remember going up against Deion Sanders and Darrell Green and they brought out the best in me."

Sanders, whose 53 interceptions and natural athletic ability made him one of the best defensive backs in the history of the NFL, also made him one of Rice's consistent rivals. Sanders played with the Falcons, Cowboys and Redskins, all NFC rivals of Rice and the 49ers in his heyday.

"Deion and I, we talk about this today when we see each other," Rice says. "The battles that we had, the night before, he's pacing around, I'm up pacing around. We knew the magnitude of the next day and that it was going to be the ultimate challenge and we looked forward to it,

Sanders did, however, play one season in San Francisco -- a Super Bowl XXIX championship year in 1994. Rice remembers the showdowns the two had in practice as two especially talented individuals met day in, day out.

"We also had some confrontations during practice because you never wanted someone to outdo you, but I think that competition brought out the best," Rice says. "It made me a better receiver and him a better defensive back. I think that's why we were able to excel on the football field."

In his post-NFL career, Rice is devoted time to giving back to rising childhood athletes. Rice is working with Lysol as the first-ever "Healthy Habits Coach." Rice works with children and their families to explain the benefits of proper nutrition, exercise and hygiene. With school starting around the country, children are in especial need of Rice's expertise.

Field goals on the last play decided the outcome of three games on the NFL's opening Sunday, including the Steelers' 30-27 win against Cleveland. But it was Pittsburgh returner/receiver Antonio Brown who delivered the kick that fans will be talking about for years.

While running back a punt in the second quarter, Brown eluded several Cleveland defenders, then attempted to hurdle over punter Spencer Lanning. Instead he ended up kicking Lanning in the facemask, which got him flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness. But the play was one of the day's buzziest moments, and it blew up on social media.

“I thought he was going low and I tried to leap over him," Brown told reporters after the game. "It was just a bad outcome of a play."

Brown's move might been spontaneous, but his offseason goal of increasing his explosiveness featured workouts with lots of jumping. Check out some of the drills Brown did, and you can see why he was ready to unleash the hurdle attempt Sunday against Lanning:

Brown had a breakthrough season in 2013 with 110 receptions for 1,499 yards and eight touchdowns to earn second team NFL All-Pro.

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Pitcher Mo'ne Davis and her team from Philadelphia won't be winning the Little League World Series, but their run has been inspiring. Sports Illustrated featured Davis on its cover, and she earned lots of fans from coast to coast. One of them is Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

"I watched her pitch the other day," Kershaw said. "She's got a great arm. It looks very fluid. It was really, really impressive."

Could Davis eventually crack the gender barrier in Major League Baseball?

"She's throwing 70 miles an hour now," Kershaw said. "If she's throwing 90 at the end of high school, you might see her."

He did not write a letter, he was not the first overall pick in this year's NBA draft and he was not part of a month-long trade saga. But Kyrie Irving may be the player most affected by the Cleveland Cavaliers' summer circus.

Despite being rookie of the year Award, a two-time All-Star and an All-Star Game MVP, the point guard has had his struggles during his three NBA seasons. The Cavs missed the playoffs every season, and Irving pointed the finger at himself Wednesday, telling RealGM's Shams Charania, "I haven't been a leader -- not at all."

Irving explained that quote in mored depth to ThePostGame on Thursday at the Jeep Summer Celebration in New York City.

"The leadership part is an ongoing thing," Irving said. "It's no perfect thing. It more or less just the truth about it. The first three years I was in the 'role of being the leader' and I didn't really know how to lead."

As the first overall pick out of Duke in 2011, Irving was Cleveland's first superstar in the post-LeBron 1.0 Era, but came with a different pedigree. The New Jersey native can create from the backcourt, but he is far from the scoring and rebounding force that James is.

Starting this year, Irving will shift into the role as second or third-fiddle (depending on Kevin Love's play) to The King. Depending on how many years James has left, Irving may not be the "the guy" for a long time. Irving signed a five-year $90 million contract this July. James signed for two years but has said he intends to be there for the long haul, which is fine with Irving.

"You're playing with the greatest player in the world," he said. "That statement speaks for itself."

Although he's giddy about playing with James, Irving said being the face of a franchise in flux his first three seasons built his character even if the on-court results were not up to bar.

"I was the franchise player and I had all the expectations on me, which I'm cool with," Irving said. "Dealing with expectations every day made me hold myself to a higher standard. That's what I've learned to do. That's what I'm still learning to do."

This summer, Irving is a part of the USA Basketball team that will travel to Spain for the FIBA World Cup starting Aug. 30. Irving, not James or Love, is the one member of Cleveland's new big three currently playing for the national team. Irving says he is trying to stay "level," focusing on USA's play while the NBA world crowds around his Cleveland teammates.

From the roster spot, Irving will get a taste of playing with NBA superstars before joining forces with James and Love. With that said, he is not going to become an alpha male overnight.

"This USA experience is not going to propel me to become the quote-unquote leader," Irving said. "I'm going to use this opportunity to play with a bunch of great guys and cherish this opportunity. I'm playing with these guys I've dreamt of playing with. I mean some of the best players in the NBA are on the wings. That's something I'm enjoying right now."

Irving is part of a loaded USA point-guard pool featuring Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard. Irving made a start for the Americans on Wednesday night with Rose taking the game off. During the exhibitions, the coaching staff has not been afraid to keep cycling through the guards.

Of course, Irving knows the head coach very well. Mike Krzyzewski recruited Irving to play one season in Durham.

"It's a great honor to get the opportunity to play for him again," Irving said. "That's something I'll cherish for a lifetime. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to play for Team USA, but also playing for my college coach. It makes my job that much easier."

Irving knew about his coach's style going into the summer, but he recognizes other players are enjoying the uniqueness of Coach K as a man who leads players from NBA stars to NCAA walk-ons.

"It's a comfortable state for all of us," Irving says. "He's not one of these coaches that is overbearing and all the time hands on. He allows us to be ourselves, to have our space, our time and do whatever's needed to get ready for the game and he respects us. That's all you can ask for."

Between USA Basketball exhibitions at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday and Friday, Irving shot baskets with children along the East River on Thursday as part of the Jeep Summer Celebration at Manhattan's South Street Seaport. The event also included some soccer and ice cream sandwiches along with Rev Run (Run-DMC) and DJ Ruckus playing a DJ set.

"It's truly genuine and it's about the youth and community," Irving said.

Jeep, a USA Basketball partner since 2012, is donating $1 to the United Service Organizations for every use of the hashtag #jeepsummer on Instagram through Sept. 5 and nearly 40,000. Users of the hashtag can also win such prizes as a Jeep Wrangler, USA Basketball tickets and Jeep paraphernalia.

James Harden got his first taste of the international game at the 2012 Olympics as a reserve player for Team USA. The Americans won the gold with stars such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony leading the way. None of those three will be playing this year at the FIBA World Cup in Spain, and Harden will be counted on to provide scoring and leadership for the U.S.

Harden said his experience in 2012 and again now in preparation for the World Cup has helped him to become a better player in the NBA.

LeBron James has slimmed down. So have fellow superstars Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade.

Somewhere in Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant must be smiling.

That's because Bryant, 35, has been preaching the virtues of weight loss for years, since he was around the age of James (29), Anthony (30) and Wade (32). Tony Manfred of Business Insider notes that when Bryant was James' age in the summer of 2007, he dropped 20 pounds and ended up having one of the best statistical seasons of his career. In 2007-08 Bryant started all 82 games, led the Lakers to the Finals and was named the NBA's MVP.

That summer Bryant was teammates with James, Anthony and Wade on the 2008 Olympic squad that won the gold medal. Perhaps the young trio took notice of Bryant's weight loss.

Last season Bryant tried to persuade then-teammate Pau Gasol to drop pounds as he transitioned into his mid-30s.

"I told [Gasol] I thought the thing that really helped me out, I dropped some weight," Bryant said in December 2013. "I told him he should probably measure it himself, see if that's something he needs to do himself. As we get older, our metabolism slows, we quietly become a little heavy."

Research shows that NBA players experience a significant drop in performance at 30, and that may be even more exaggerated for guys like James and Anthony, who have been in the league since they were teenagers.

It's no secret that NBA players look to slim down after they hit 30, and Tim Duncan and Ray Allen are two examples of veterans who have lost weight and also been able to maintain a high level of play into their third decade. But now that James, Anthony and Wade are all watching their weight, it appears that slimming down has never been more popular.

"Especially later on, as you get up in years, it's less wear and tear on your body," Hall of Famer Reggie Miller recently told TMZ. "So actually it's pretty smart. You saw what happened to LeBron in the Finals -- the cramping. I guarantee you he won't have those issues now that he's lost the weight."

Not every superstar needs to cut pounds, however, and reigning MVP Kevin Durant (who has sometimes been called the "Slim Reaper" for his slight frame) may not want to lose weight when he hits 30 years old in 2018.

(H/T to Business Insider)

Antonio Brown had a breakthrough season in 2013 with 110 receptions for 1,499 yards and eight touchdowns to earn second team NFL All-Pro. He spent the offseason working to increase his explosiveness. Check out some of his grueling regimen, which includes lots of jumping.

In Akron, Ohio, they are all witnesses. That is, witnesses to LeBron James' stardom and Ida Keeling's inspiration.

Keeling, a 99-year-old great-great-grandmother who lives independently in a New York City studio apartment, turned heads at the Gay Games in Akron on Tuesday. At 4-6 and 83 pounds, size is not on Keeling's size. But physical realities did not stop her from accomplishing her task: Running the 100-meter dash.

"I'm running from old age and arthritis," Keeling told the Akron Beacon Journal.

Keeling finished her heat at the Lee R. Jackson Track and Field Complex in 59.80 seconds, last in the competition. The time is more than 50 seconds slower than Usain Bolt's 2009 men's world record of 9.58 seconds and 49 seconds shy of Florence Griffith's 1988 record of 10.49 .

However, Keeling officially set the record in the 95-99-year-old age group. According to her daughter and coach, Shelley Keeling, a 63-year-old real estate investor, there were no records of anyone in the 95-99 age group completing an internationally certified 100-meter race. That means Ida holds the world record.

Shelley also coach track at Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx. She was originally slated to run with Ida in the 400 meters, but as puddles bogged down on the track, Shelley opted to pull the mother and daughter from that race.

Keeling started running at age 67 to cope with the loss of two sons, killed within three years of each other due to drug-related homicides. Shelley pushed her mother to start running and Ida has not looked back.

“I was so depressed, and my daughter wanted to take me on a mini run," Keeling said. "After it was finished, I felt relaxed and relieved."

Keeling is closing in on triple-digits in age, but she is still an avid fan of exercise and eating healthy. She plans on running the 100-meters again in 2015, this time going for a record in the age 100-104 division.

"Eat for nutrition, not for taste. Do what you need to do, not what you want to do and don't leave out your daily exercise. Love yourself," b>she says.

In a world of excuses, Ida Keeling has every reason not to put herself through strenuous sprinting. She has a dark personal past, a naturally tiny body, arthritis concerns and old age to worry about. But Keeling keeps on running.

"We aren't here to break the record,” Shelley says. “We’re here to set it."

Ida Keeling is not running from anything anymore. She is running for herself and others.

Reed Johnson wasn’t ready.

The veteran outfielder had just begun to stretch when he learned he would be pinch-hitting for Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija to lead off the sixth inning of a game against the Brewers in May 2012. He grabbed a bat and walked to the plate cold.

Looking for any way to get loose, Johnson lunged at Marco Estrada’s 1-0 pitch in the dirt and missed. But the next offering zipped right down the middle, and Johnson clubbed it over the left-field wall.

Now a key member of the Marlins’ bench, Johnson remembers that at-bat not for its success -- he knows he got lucky -- but as an example of what not to do.

“If I’d have used that preparation to guide me for the rest of my career, I’d probably be in big trouble right now," he said.

The nature of hitting is to prepare tirelessly and fail frequently. Even if a fat pitch can help reverse those cruel dynamics on occasion, pinch-hitting more often magnifies them, all that preparation funneled into one chance.

"You're like, 'God, I hit like a thousand balls and I go out there, strike out, and my day's over,'" Johnson said.

Johnson has made the second-most pinch-hitting appearances of any active player and posted numbers nearly identical to his career stats. This, too, bucks a persistent overall trend. In 2013, for example, while the league as a whole batted .253 with a .318 on-base percentage and .396 slugging percentage, pinch-hitters posted a line of .217/.292/.336. A similar divide exists this season.

The job demands a lot. Pinch-hitters must ready themselves physically and mentally for an at-bat that could come at any moment -- or never. Not all hitters are capable. Not all are fully willing. Those who are both might seize an opportunity to extend or expand a career.

For Matt Stairs, the turning point came when he moved to the National League in 2001, joining the Cubs. By the time his career ended in ‘11, he had racked up nearly 500 regular-season pinch-hit appearances and set a still-standing record of 23 pinch home runs, not including his memorable blast for the Phillies in the 2008 NL Championship Series.

“The day I knew I wasn’t gonna play every day, I accepted it and wanted to do it and I looked forward to doing it,” said Stairs, now a Phillies television broadcaster. “I wanted to be that guy that could come in and be that game-changer in the eighth or the ninth inning.”

That’s the attitude Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan now preaches after a 16-year career he bolstered with a .382 OBP in 421 pinch-hit appearances.

“I think the guys that struggle with it are the guys that fight it," Magadan said. "They don't see it as an opportunity to go 1-for-1. They see it as an opportunity to go 0-for-1."

Of course, embracing the challenge isn't the same as conquering it. Willingness must be backed with labor, and for most pinch-hitters, there's plenty of that.

Getting ready for a pinch at-bat is a complicated dance that can involve stretching, swinging, studying and reading a variety of cues about game situation – all orchestrated to generate peak performance within a tiny window. Timing is critical.

“If you’re getting ready the whole game, then you’re going to be out of gas, so it's a fine line between being ready and wearing yourself out,” said the Reds' Chris Heisey, who had eight career pinch homers, with a .935 OPS as of Friday. "You’ve got to kind of know the limit and then at the last second get up to game speed."

From Little League through the minor leagues, most big leaguers play every day and gain little to no experience in this art. As veteran bench player Greg Dobbs put it, going from three to five at-bats per day to maybe three to five per week requires making good use of the time not spent in the game so that when opportunity knocks, "you don't feel like everything is so fast." Learning this comes from trial and error and often the guidance of veterans, who pass their tips and tactics down to the next generation.

After Dobbs debuted with the Mariners in 2004, he soaked up knowledge from Dave Hansen, who is fourth all-time in pinch-hit appearances (703) and sixth in hits (139). A decade later, Dobbs -- now at the Nationals' Triple-A Syracuse affiliate -- sits as the active leader in both categories, thanks in large part to a routine shaped in those early days.

“I’ve learned that you have to prepare more than anyone,” Dobbs said while playing for Washington earlier this season.

He will start well before the game, looking at video and scouting reports of pitchers he might face and studying their past confrontations. Once the game is underway, Dobbs stays on the bench, supporting his teammates and watching, with a purpose. He looks for little things -- such as how the opponent is attacking his team's left-handed hitters -- to file away for later. Then sometime between the third and fifth innings, he begins getting his body ready while also tracking pitch counts for both starters and thinking about matchups, looking for a spot that might require his services.

As the Marlins' Jeff Baker described this game of mental gymnastics, “You basically become your own manager to make sure you’re not surprised by the situation when it comes up.”

The routines vary from player to player.

Like Dobbs, Johnson craves information, believing it can “lower your anxiety.” His iPad is loaded with scouting reports and video of pitchers, and before each series, he studies intently, looking for tendencies and developing a plan. During games, he leaves the iPad in the tunnel between the dugout and the clubhouse in case he needs to grab it for a quick refresher before an at-bat.

On the other end of the spectrum, Heisey mostly foregoes any information beyond what the pitcher throws.

“I try to stay away from video,” he said,. “If I try to look for too many tendencies, I’ll start guessing up there, and I’ve never been a good guesser.”

Instead, Heisey’s focus rests on making sure he’s “ready to attack” when he steps to the plate, alert for a potentially meaty first-pitch fastball. While some hitters like to work the count more than others, there is a balance to strike between waiting for an optimal pitch and not exacerbating an already difficult situation by inviting an adverse count.

“The best pitch you get might be the first one,” Magadan said. “It's hard enough to pinch-hit without always being 0-1 all the time.”

But before a pinch-hitter can worry about when to swing, he must prime his body for the task. That means getting loose and limber, sometimes more than once during the course of the game. He might stretch, run, ride a stationary bike, and of course, take some cuts.

The quantity and type of those swings depend on individual preference. Stairs, for example, estimates that he averaged close to 500 hacks per day, and almost all of those came before first pitch.

“My game was my batting practice,” Stairs said. “Nobody could take that away from me, so that’s when I’m really going to have fun and see how many home runs I can hit and how far I can hit a ball and just have some fun with it."

Stairs didn’t bother to work the whole field with line drives. His goal was to go deep on every pitch, picking out the most remote deck in any particular stadium and trying to reach it with “bazookas.”

Others take time before and during games to utilize the batting cages situated near the dugouts in most stadiums. They take cuts off a tee, at tosses from a coach or against a pitching machine.

With the Nationals trailing the Reds, 2-1, in the ninth inning of a May 19 game in Washington, veteran Nats reserve Scott Hairston knew he could be headed toward an encounter with flamethrowing Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman.

Hairston, the active leader with 13 pinch homers, went to the cage and had a coach pull the protective screen to within about 40 feet of the plate before firing pitches at him to simulate the velocity Chapman unleashes from 60 feet, 6 inches.

Sufficiently geared up for Chapman's missiles, Hairston got his bat on a 99-mph, two-strike fastball at the letters and lofted it to left for a game-tying sacrifice fly.

It had been several hours since Hairston arrived at Nationals Park, and his game action lasted all of two minutes. That's an equation destined to provoke frustration, but this time, it produced a critical run.

"A lot goes on -- more than people think -- preparing for what we do," Hairston said.

Donald Penn made it to the Pro Bowl after the 2010 season as a tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But last season Penn (and the rest of Bucs) are struggled, and the team released him in the spring. He signed with the Raiders and he is eager to prove that at 30, he still has quality football to offer. Here's how Penn spent the off-season gearing up for the challenge of his first year in Oakland:

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