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.